Parents should model the behavior they want their children to adopt: HCFI

9:43 am Health Care, Heart Care Foundation of India, Medicine

Tech-free time is imperative for adults and children alike

New Delhi, 5th June 2019: Children who are exposed to violent video games were found to more likely pull the trigger in real-life situations, when compared to kids who don’t indulge in such gaming habits, recent research has warned. In its International Classification of Diseases (ICD), the WHO has classified addiction to digital and video gaming as a mental health disorder. There is a need to raise awareness on both the physical and mental health hazards of this addiction, especially in children.

In those with a ‘Gaming disorder’, gaming takes precedence over other activities to the extent that everything else is pushed to the periphery. The condition can lead to significant distress and impairment in personal, familial, social, educational or occupational functioning. Apart from this, it can also cause disturbed sleep patterns, diet problems and deficiency in physical activities.

Speaking about this, Padma Shri Awardee, Dr KK Aggarwal, President, HCFI, said, “A person addicted to gaming can spend anywhere between 10 and 14 hours a day playing. Most of these people have some underlying social and psychological conditions as well. For gaming disorder to be diagnosed, the behavior pattern must be of enough severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning and would normally have been evident for at least 12 months. Increasingly, there is a lack of interaction among family e members primarily because each of them is engrossed in some screen or the other. And children emulate what parents and other elders do.”

Adding further, Dr Aggarwal, who is also the Group Editor-in-Chief of IJCP, said, “Recovery from this condition can take anywhere from 6 to 8 weeks of intense cognitive therapy. Under this, they are taught how to handle the craving for playing games, counter discomfort, and focus on other healthier recreations. Children alone can’t be corrected. Today, parents hardly have any time to spend with their children unlike old times. It is important for them to give children adequate time and attention to prevent such addictions. Presence cannot and should not be substituted by presents.”

Many parents wake up to this disorder in their children only when there is a drastic drop in academics, a failure in professional life, or visible social alienation. Some preventive tips that parents can adopt, from HCFI.

  • Interact with children: Instead of giving them a phone to keep them busy, spend some time interacting with them and talking to them. This will eliminate the need for a device.
  • Put computers or TVs in shared spaces: This way it will be easier to keep track of their usage and limit screen time.
  • Opt for a tech-free time: Ensure devoting few hours in a day to zero screen time for the entire household.
  • Watch your habits: If, as parents, you devote a lot of time to mobiles and computers, children are naturally inclined to follow suit. Be a positive role model for them.
  • Eat together: Meal times should be free from screens and a time for the family to sit together and eat. Make this a practice.
  • Indulge in physical activity: Ensure that the children spend sufficient time in outdoor activities. This will make them less prone to using Smartphone.

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