Thursday, 4 June 2015

Screen time & gaming! The eternal conflict!

Here are some of my rambling thoughts from a conversation I was having recently with a friend of mine.

They are about gaming and screen time and the internal (and external) conflict these issues create.


I do understand your concerns about the amount of time spent in front of a screen.

I guess what I would say, is how much time does an adult spend looking at screens (work, tv, phone, tablet etc) and is it really that different? 

I know for me for example, that it is very little but, you could easily equate a love of screens with a love of books and the amount of time I spend (would spend) with my nose in a book (my passion) would easily match up. I guess books seem benign (although they aren't in terms of impact on your eyes I'm sure)!

I think the optician who said the blue light from screens damages your eyes could well be right, but again, long term studies are thin on the ground (non-existent?) and there could also be many benefits for the eyes. We know that neurologists are discovering gaming benefits for the brain all the time.

Upon being asked for some links:

The only other links I have come across recently have been related to the brain scans of addicts (drug addicts and computer addicts specifically) and they show enlarged 'pleasure centres' in the brains of these individuals (not surprising). 

They do not however seem to know which came first (the enhanced pleasure centre or the addiction) so it is hard to determine causality.

(I have put some links below that cover some of the recent scientific studies)

I guess I'd also like to add that, yes, it does worry me some days how much time my PDA son spends in front of a screen BUT, I try to remember: it is his passion, he is incredibly talented, he wants to make it his career and he continues to learn and improve all the time. Not sure what more I could ask for really? I know that I would love, love, love to have something that I felt that passionate about. 

As to the addictive nature of gaming - who knows!

Just look at anyone who plays any games (including benign games like Candy Crush or Angry Birds) to see that everyone has the potential for excessive use. 

I think the difference for my son, maybe not for everybody, is that he needs the instant gratification, the trophies, the kudos from team mates, the speed of play, the depth of the graphics (better than real life according to him) and he enjoys the incredible attention to detail required to excel in all the different gaming arenas. 

For him, they are *better* than real life. Much of what I have listed he cannot achieve in real life! 

He has never been able to be on a team. 
He has never won a trophy. 
He has never been the best at something. 

It is no wonder the pleasure centre of his brain fires up when he games! 
He is experiencing a lot of pleasure! 

I can only wish that he found that much pleasure in other areas of life, and maybe one day he will (he does sometimes I guess...swimming, the beach, eating out, cinema, visiting good friends, the trampoline, water balloons, water pistols) but until then, I'm going to let him figure it out. 

He has all the relevant information (with regard to his health and the implications for it long-term) and a good idea of what can happen as a result of so much gaming so ultimately, it is his choice. 

As for everyone else, go with what feels right for your family. 

That's all any of us can do in the end. 

Meh, what does it the long run we all blame our parents for what goes wrong, right!? 

N x


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