Too much screen time? Parents weigh in on video games

Source: Press Of Atlantic City

According to a 2018 Pew Research Center survey of teens ages 13 to 17, more than 80 percent have a game console at home and 90 percent play video games on a console, computer or cellphone. The data show video games are more popular among teenage boys.

Researchers have been studying the effect of video games and other screen time on children for a long time and have found myriad negative effects on children’s social and emotional outcomes.

“There is increasing research that’s showing that kids who play video games excessively seem to show negative results,” said Kriger, a licensed addiction counselor and Rutgers University faculty member. “Some of the research is even showing that it changes the brain as much as methamphetamine or cocaine can.”

Kriger said the mental stimulation and reward you get playing video games releases dopamine to the brain. He said the effects are exacerbated for children who may have social issues as they can become more socially withdrawn. He also pointed to the current high rates of depression and suicide among teens as an effect of lack of human contact.

Kriger said parents often relay stories of children becoming belligerent when the technology is taken away.

Jessica Galusha, 36, of Galloway Township, can relate. Galusha said she notices that when her kids spend a lot of time on their screens, they are needy, whiny and lazy. She limits video game time to one hour per day for her five sons.

“My opinion is if kids spend that much time in front of a gaming environment, I think they would lose empathy,” she said. “They should be reading, they should be running, they need to do so many other things. When their body is active, their mind is active.”

Susan Silipena of Galloway, a mother of sons, aged 17 and 19, doesn’t want to give in to letting her kids become gamers. “It came to a point where if I asked them to do something for me, they stopped playing the game, but their mind is still on the game, so they look at me when I’m talking but then they say, ‘What?’ so they don’t hear me,” she said.

Silipena said there has been an upside: Her sons are both into technology, with her oldest studying electrical engineering and her younger son wanting to get into cybersecurity. “He built his own computer at age 14. He’s very tech-savvy,” she said, but she still wonders what life would be like if she were more strict.
“It’s all in the perception of the person. I would really love to go back in time and do it again and see what my kids would be like if they weren’t addicted to video games,” Silipena said.

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