Posts Tagged ‘electronic games’

Mental Health Holiday Challenge: No Video Game Gifts

December 16th, 2010


holiday gift

Try a board game instead!

For school age children, the holidays can represent a time to rest, be with family, and play outdoors….or a time to have frenzied video game marathons with the cousins– because, hey, they have new and awesome games!

During the school year, I’ve noticed two blips in the acuity of my younger patients. The first is about six weeks into school, when the honeymoon period wears off and stress is mounting. The second is after the holidays.

At first I wondered why, since a lot of kids do better during summer and other vacation times. Then I realized a typical history during the holidays would be that friends or relatives were visiting, and would often bring over new video games. The kids all gathered in a separate room and would play daily for several hours. The scene?  The adults are happy because the kids are out of their hair, and the kids are having fun with their cousins (or whomever), happily sharing their new electronic toys. The kids are typically on better-than-usual behavior because company’s around, and there is genuine excitement and camaraderie surrounding holiday festivities. This may go on for several days.

It’s all good, right?!   The problem appears when school begins again.   If your child is prone to meltdowns, has trouble organizing themselves, or struggles with focusing on schoolwork, all of these tend to worsen after the holidays if video game sessions are involved. When school resumes, they are thrust back into a situation where higher expectations are placed on them, and this can trigger everything from increased oppositional/defiant behaviors, crying spells, or immediately falling behind in school.    (For information on why this happens, visit the video game page on my website.)

If you notice a pattern like this (or even if you notice any of the above symptoms, in general), challenge yourself and your family to a non-electronic holiday season. Pull out and dust off the board games, or buy a couple new ones as gifts. Card games, like “spoons”, can be played by several kids at once (just make sure they’re similar ages). If you simply tell the kids: “no video games this year”, you’ll be surprised at their creativity. They may grumble, but don’t cave–eventually one child picks up the ball and starts to organize a game or activity. (do a big puzzle, build a snowman, play tag or hide and go seek, have a snowball fight…GO OLD-SCHOOL!)

When I tell parents their child needs a several-week break from all electronic screens, I often hear how the child needs to use the computer for school work. So the holiday season, with no school and no homework, provides an ideal time to give their growing brains a break. It’s impossible to get away from technology, but when opportunities  present themselves to take a clean break, you will never regret seizing them.

Do you have a group game you’d like to tell other parents about?  Tell us the name, objective of the game, and where parents can find more information (if possible).  Indoor and outdoor games are needed.

Video Games & Your Child’s Brain

September 5th, 2010

Do you have an uneasy feeling that playing video games is bad for your child’s brain?  It’s much worse than you think!

We all know how pervasive video games are in our children’s  lives, but what most people don’t know is the profound negative and lasting effects they have on a growing brain.   This report is based on Dr Dunckley’s experience with several hundred pediatric and young adult patients on- and off- video games: what symptoms occur due to gaming and other screen-time activities, how damage occurs over time, what systems are affected, and what happens to your child’s nervous system during and after an “electronic fast.”   This, combined with compiling the research, makes for a very compelling argument that video games, computer, texting etc can cause short and long-term negative effects.

Sign up HERE for your FREE Save Your Child’s Brain minicourse.  Arm yourself with the truth about video games, and get your child’s brain on track.

Today, many children are misdiagnosed, for example as ‘bipolar’ or ‘ADHD’, if they have meltdowns or trouble focusing.  Even more disturbing, some of these children are put on psychotropic medication unnecessarily, when the real culprit is over-stimulation from electronics.  Parents should first educate themselves on the effects of electronic screen media, then consider taking a solid three to four week break–an electronic fast— if their child is having any problems at home, in school, or with peers.

But how does one do this, in this day and age? First, you, the parent, must be convinced yourself that it’s worth it.  You must learn what happens in the eyes, brain, and body during gaming or other electronic media stimulation to cause dysregulation of mood and arousal levels.  Dr. Dunckley’s program explains the behind-the-scenes action in simple terms with lots of examples. Then, to be fully committed, you need to learn about the potential benefits of the electronic fast:

  • Better compliance, e.g.  being told to do a chore or get ready for bed.
  • Smoother homework time- more gets done with fewer tears and tantrums.
  • Improved reading and math skills*
  • Improved attention**
  • Better quality sleep, due to both sleep “signals” and body clock being reset.***
  • Better frustration tolerance, fewer meltdowns, less aggression****
  • Less irritability, depression, and agitation.

Lastly, you need to know how to implement it.  This is the tough part! Parents get overwhelmed with the just the thought of telling their child.  Dr Dunckley’s program specifically addresses this issue, and provides practical tools to help you and your child succeed.

What the FREE minicourse provides…

This is a preview to Dr Dunckley’s 4 week “Save Your Child’s Brain” teleseminar program, which is being developed to help support parents in what may seem to be a daunting task.   “The hardest part for me as  a clinician is helping the parent who resists.  It’s either because they’re not convinced of the video games’ impact,  because they feel it’s too difficult, if not impossible to implement in today’s world, or because they feel they’d be giving up precious moments of peace and quiet,” Dr Dunckley states.  “The program will address these concerns and helps the parent take it day-by-day, learning as they go.”