Fortnite made headlines this year after the NHS announced that people can now receive treatment for gaming addiction. This news went viral after a three-year battle to recognise gaming addiction was won by Kendal Parmar, who is a mother of a 15-year child addicted to the Fortnite game. Before discovering Fortnite, Kendal Parmar’s son could have been described as a golden boy who did well in school and sports, and had a vibrant social life.
After developing a gaming addiction, he became uncontrollable and withdrawn, skipped school for a year and was later hospitalised for eight weeks due to Vitamin D deficiency. Despite his mother’s many efforts to limit or distract him from his game, her son always seemed to circumvent her attempts and continue to play. Kendal Parmar is not the only parent who has had to deal with the consequences of gaming addiction. Similar stories have popped up on several news outlets, including one of a 10 year old girl who refused to get off the game even to use the bathroom, and became violent when her dad tried to take away her X-BOX. The girl is now in intensive therapy.
Whilst we recognise that these are the most extreme cases, staff are seeing increasing evidence that gaming addiction is a genuine condition that is having an impact on the emotional well being of our pupils. Children who play games for extended periods often appear tired and unable to concentrate in lessons. Some children who play to the exclusion of other activities are unable to talk about wider interests or write creatively about other topics. Some of the children are intensely competitive about the game and place a disproportionate value on their skills and achievements within the game. Some individuals have even allowed conflict from online gaming / chatting to spill onto the playground and affect their relationships with their peers.
Parents are urged to be on the lookout for addictive behaviour, which according to the hospital’s website may present itself as:
- Preoccupation with the Internet or video game
- Interference with other activities due to time spent online or playing
- Failure to limit one’s time online or on a game
- Neglecting family, friends, school, work or self-care
- Anxiety or restless when not online or playing
- Anger when confronted about one’s “addiction”/behaviour
- Foregoing other hobbies or enjoyable activities to play
- Neglecting sleep
Parents are also urged to set strict rules when it comes to gaming if a child starts exhibiting any of these symptoms. For example, some platforms allow parental controls, which allow parents to set time limits for gaming. Another suggestion that the school would strongly endorse is to ban all technology, including their phones, from the child’s room after bedtime. Finding another hobby or keeping the child busy with other activities can also distract kids from gaming.
For more information on Fortnite: Battle Royale, visit the Wikipedia page on Fortnite.
Also, check out this news item from BBC News on online addiction.