Recently I have been hearing more and more from parents who are concerned that their child/teen is obsessed with gaming. Many of these parents have also commented on the angry or aggressive behaviour that seems to come along with it.
Not all children/teenagers are effected in this way but I found it really interesting looking closer into why some do.
When would it be classed as an addiction?
I would call it an addiction when it interferes with relationships, other interests and achievements.
These are some other indicators
* Lying about usage of gaming
* Irritable if unable to play
* Lack of interest in activities that they previously enjoyed
* Lack of interest in eating if it means missing a game
* Isolation from friends
* When not gaming they are thinking/talking about gaming
'The National Children’s Bureau Northern Ireland research involved more than 600 teens aged 14-16 from 2012-14 and found that 41% of children who used portable gaming devices at least twice a day achieved at least five GCSE A* to C grades, compared with 77% of those who used them less than once a week.'
How are addictions created?
First of all we need to take a look back in history. As cavemen/cavewomen we needed to go out and hunt for food, we needed to adapt and respond quickly for our safety. For example we quickly learned if something was either dangerous or good for us and our brain would keep that pattern as a template to use again and again. During many of these activities (such as killing prey, eating and reproducing) our brain would have produced dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that gives us a feeling of euphoria, energy and a feeling of success which served as a reward, unfortunately high levels of dopamine can cause aggressive behaviour (but on a positive note the right amount at the right time can increase the desire to win or competitive streak in us often helping with success).
However these days our brain (Which has not yet evolved to suit modern times) still seeks this reward. We no longer need to do the same activities such as hunting and killing and we have other more modern activities which give us this rush of dopamine which we crave such as recreational drugs, smoking, sex and many more including gaming. This dopamine hit tells the brain 'this feels great, I want more' and same way as we created the repetitive patterns in caveman days to ensure our survival our brain responds the same way to gaming and a habit or addiction is created.
What can we do about it?
First of all I tell all of my customers about the importance of serotonin. Serotonin is another neurotransmitter which provides feelings of well being, balance and contentment.
I expect you are asking how we can produce more serotonin?
Starting with the three P's
* Positive Interaction
Again going back to our caveman days at the end of a long stressful day we would have sat around a fire and talked to our 'tribe', but these days we still need to interact in a positive way.
* Positive Action
You guessed it, chasing that saber toothed tiger! Luckily its much easier now, we can play football or any activity that you enjoy!
* Positive Thoughts
We were given the ability to daydream, we can use this ability in one of two different ways. Back to the caveman - they were much more successful when they imagined how they would set up the trap to catch the saber toothed tiger than when they imagined being eaten by the tiger. We still need to focus on the positives.
Solutions Focused Hypnotherapy can help, first of all we use psychotherapy where we only focus on the positives and the solution, we do not need to go over the problem. We then explain how the brain works using a simplified version of science and research....children and teenagers especially find this fascinating as they can finally understand how and why they act in certain ways.
Also during solutions focused hypnotherapy we have the advantage of using trance. Trance is very ordinary, we go into trance several times a day, but during our sessions we encourage the customer to stay in trance slightly longer than you would for example when going for a run or washing up. Although trance feels extremely relaxing we know the brain is actually hard at work during this time finding solutions and solving problems.
Please contact me for more information or to book in an initial consultation!