Game addicts worry parents

SALLY KIDSON
Last updated 12:00 05/01/2013

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Parents of teens addicted to computer games are taking parts of their computer with them when they go out in a bid to stop children from gaming.

However, an addiction specialist says the teenagers are so addicted they are breaking into their neighbours' houses to use the computer.

Nayland College is tackling the problem head-on by forming a computer club and making gaming more social.

Problem Gambling psychologist Philip Townshend said parents of teenagers addicted to gaming were seeking help from him as they had nowhere else to get advice.

It was an area not funded to be dealt with.

He believed there was a real need in the community for this kind of help and it was likely there were a lot of people affected by children addicted to gaming.

"Gaming is the main concern. Sometimes it is other compulsive use of the internet . . . but really it's some kind of gaming on 90 per cent of occasions - it's some kind of gaming that's going on."

He said parents usually encouraged their children to get into computers, sometimes because it was a babysitting device to begin with, and they then became concerned about the amount of time their children used the computer.

Other parents encouraged their children to use computers as it was a skill they would have to use in the future for work and education.

He said just like alcohol, cannabis and nicotine, computers were another thing that should be added to the list that parents needed to teach their kids about - what was appropriate and how to get some control over it.

Controls around the use of the computers needed to be put into place when children were young.

"If you leave it until they are 15, it's probably too late," he said.

He had heard parents talk about how aggressive their children became, when families tried to tackle a gaming addiction. "And they are good kids".

He said it could be quite damaging and he had seen some children drop out of university or school - "and often they were bright kids".

"I have had a few parents that feel like that if they leave their house they have to take bits of the computer hardware with them."

He knew of one teen who went to a grandmother's house and used her computer, and she ended up with a huge phone bill.

"I hear about kids breaking into school or neighbours' [homes] to use the computer - these are good kids usually."

He believed Nayland College's approach in trying to bring the children who play the games away from their computers and socialising was a good one.

College takes lead, p3

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- The Nelson Mail

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