Most teens who play online games enjoy it and don't find it harmful. They use gaming to relax, connect with friends, learn skills, and appreciate some terrific games.
However, for a minority of teens, gaming can become a problem - taking them away from schoolwork, sleep, physical exercise, hobbies, and spending time with loved ones.
The signs of problem gaming can include:
- Withdrawal from family and friends
- Sleeping problems
- Hygiene problems
- Changes to eating habits
- Dropping school marks
- Loss of interest in things they used to enjoy
- Loss of confidence
- Thinking about gaming all the time
- Getting distressed, anxious or angry when they can't access games
- Saying things which are very negative and out of character
- Continuing to play even when they're not enjoying it
- Physical problems, like headaches, back pain or wrist pain
- Changes in how much money they have
- Often losing track of time while gaming.
Remember, these behaviours can be signs of other problems too, so it's important to get expert advice.
Check out some great tips on gaming from headspace and Kids Helpline. If you are concerned about your teens, speak to a trusted GP, Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800), or Parentline.