Game Quitters – Look what else there is to do!! | Coomera Anglican College

Game Quitters – Look what else there is to do!!

Recently the College was fortunate to secure the services of Mr Cameron Adair. Mr Adair is a technology expert who has delivered seminar-type presentations across the globe to students and parents, about the potentially problematic domain of gaming.

With almost all teenagers playing video games regularly, 13% of them reporting symptoms of a problem, and the increasing popularity of competitive eSports, the time is now to ensure teenagers have a healthy and productive relationship with gaming and social media.

Mr Adair has left the following resource images which will help you identify at-risk teenagers, and give practical strategies to help them thrive in a world dominated by technology.

Cameron's presentation to students contained valuable information and the dangers of gaming online. 

Watch his 30 minute documentary "Game Over" here.  The video is narrated by Cameron, talking about his own experiences and it includes interviews his mother who provides a parent’s perspective, experts who discuss the psychological aspects of learning, intermittent reinforcement, gambling, dopamine release and more.  

In Summary:

Why do students play?
Gives you a temporary escape, a way to avoid your situation/problems
* Easy way to be social, form a sense of community, make friends online
* You see progress, constant measurable growth, instant gratification
* They’re a challenge, a sense of purpose, a goal to work toward

“Games are very effective in providing all those things.”

The traps in YouTube and video game design
Beware of autoplay on YouTube 
* You may be tired after school and decide to watch a YouTube video to relax but you end up watching many more than one due to autoplay. 
* You can turn autoplay off.

In video games beware the loot box
* It’s an in-game purchase consisting of a virtual container that awards players with items and modifications based on chance. 
* Loot boxes are very similar to gambling

“That mechanic in the game can make you vulnerable to addiction.”

Gamers fight with their parents
When you’re asked to come off the video game you’re playing …
* You lose, your ego takes a hit
* For some video games this means your friends lose too

Gaming and mindless browsing of YouTube can cause problems;
* in your relationships with parents
* with school work, not doing homework, grades dropping
* spending too much money online
* depression and anxiety

“One day I wrote a suicide note, that’s when I knew I needed help.” 

Warning signs of gaming addiction
* Gaming has a negative impact on your life but you keep doing it despite all the problems it’s causing you
* Pre-occupation with gaming e.g., at school you’re counting down the hours until you can play again
* Deception - stealing parent’s credit card, lying to people about how long you’re playing
* Playing more than 3 hours per day
* Having withdrawal symptoms when you can’t play e.g., having urges to play, irritability, headaches, mood swings

Research on video gaming

“We know from research that 12 to 18 year olds should have no more than 2 hours screen time per day outside homework and school work including TV, phones, iPads.”

* Gaming provides rapid dopamine release. This explains why when you play games, the type of stimulation you receive is so different to what you experience in other activities and why you can find other activities to be boring in comparison.
* Gaming can change brain structure due to excessive chronic consumption (dopamine surges); 
* Numbed pleasure response: Every day pleasures no longer satisfy us.
* Hyper-reactivity to gaming: Everything else is boring, but gaming is super exciting.
* Willpower erosion: Due to changes in our frontal cortex.

“We also know that excessive gaming has a negative impact on mental health especially anxiety and depression.”

You have amazing potential!
* You can create an amazing life for yourself.
* What do you want to accomplish when you’re older?
* How are you spending your time now?
* How is that helping you get towards your goals and dreams?
* What are the skills and character traits you need to get there?
* How can you invest your free time to help you reach your goals?
* You’re not going to remember the cat videos you’ve seen or the video games you’ve played or the Internet browsing you’ve done.
* Believe in your potential and invest in it.

Video games are entertaining but …
* What do you want to do with your life that is fulfilling?
Cam gave the example of his annual trip to a poor African country where he cleans water wells. People there don’t have technology, they don’t have enough food to eat or clean water to drink but they are resourceful and creative (make footballs to play with out of straw) and they are really happy (sing, dance, play).

Gaming is stimulating you but … 
* it takes little energy,
* not good for your physical health,
* keeps you away from sunlight and nature
* not helping you have good relationships with your family,
* doesn’t aid the development of social skills, face to face communication etc.

How to quit or at least limit gaming
* Find other activities that give you an escape, help you to make friends, give you a sense of progress and a sense of purpose
* Try not doing it every day
* Beware unstructured time, have a plan especially during weekends & holidays
* Follow a schedule, a daily agenda, to avoid boredom
* Don’t expect parents to place limits on your gaming
* Watch the time and limit your own time on video games
* Spend time in nature
* Develop leadership by taking charge of what you do with your free time
* Join a support community such as Game Quitters

Finally, be kind online and ask for help
* Research shows that we perceive people online differently to how we perceive them in person
* Online, they are just a user name, an entity. 
* Remind yourself that they are a person, someone’s kid, a human being.
* Violent video gamers don’t develop empathy, which is a really important human quality

What changed my life was asking for help.

Find an adult you trust and get over the stigma, the fear of being judged or dismissed and reach out for help. 

This article was written for Coomera Anglican College located on the Gold Coast, Queensland. Coomera Anglican College provides seamless education from Early Learning/Preschool to Secondary Graduation. For more information contact us on +61 7 5585 9900 or via our website