The family of a budding computer programmer have on Saturday launched a campaign to raise awareness about the health risks of playing online computer games after their son died following a marathon session on his Xbox.
A post-mortem revealed that 20-year-old Chris Staniforth — who was offered a place to study Game Design at Leicester University — was killed by a pulmonary embolism, which can occur if someone sits in the same position for several hours.
Deep vein thrombosis normally affects passengers on long-haul flights, but medical experts fear youngsters who spend hours glued to their consoles might also be at risk and have urged them to take regular breaks.
Professor Brian Colvin — an expert on blood-related conditions — said it was “unhealthy” for youngsters to spend long periods in front of their consoles.
“There’s anxiety about obesity and children not doing anything other than looking at computer screens,” he told The Sun.
David Staniforth has now launched a campaign to warn other parents of the dangers.
“Games are fun and once you’ve started playing it’s hard to stop.
“Kids all over the country are playing these games for long periods – they don’t realise it could kill them,” he told The Sun.
A coroner’s court in Sheffield was told how the youngster — who had no underlying medical conditions — was complaining of a low heart rate before collapsing outside a Jobcentre.
Staniforth’s distraught father said his son would spend up to 12 hours playing on his Xbox.
“He got sucked in playing Halo online against people from all over the world.”
Online computer games are extremely popular as thousands interact in shared science fiction worlds.
Reports of gamers collapsing after spending 15 hours in front of video games are fairly common throughout Asia.
In 2005, a South Korean gamer died after playing online games for three days without taking a break.
Microsoft — which manufactures the Xbox — said it “recommend gamers take breaks to exercise as well as make time for other pursuits.”
Not many blog posts here recently as I have been very busy writing TechAddiction’s second book How to Help Children Addicted to Video Games – A Guide for Parents.
After many months, the book is finally ready and I have to say I am quite happy with the final result. Every day I get requests from parents on recommended books for dealing with video game addictions in kids. I have probably read just about every book on this topic but I just could not find a book that offered what I was looking for: A clear, comprehensive, step-by-step, always up to date, workbook-style manual that not only educates, but describes exactly how to address video game addictions in teens and children.
With over 200 pages of specific tips, strategies, and interventions as well as detailed analyses of conversations between parents and children in the midst of a game addiction…I have tried to produce the most helpful and practical book available online or in print on this topic.
Hopefully I have succeeded.
As promised, it is not all doom (the adverse fate, not the game) and gloom (the state of melancholy, not the Pokemon) here at the TechAddiction Blog.
A new report by the Sesame Workshop has outlined some of the positive effects of playing video games.
If games are played in moderation, are age appropriate, and avoid violent content, some of the potential benefits include:
– Exposure to new vocabulary words, history, and science concepts
– Improved math and complex problem solving skills
– Improved “Systems Thinking” (how changing one element affects larger relationships)
– Improved physical health (for “active” and fitness games)
For more details, check out the full report.
Following up on the previous post regarding videogame addiction in children, Michael Gallagher, the president of Entertainment Software Association (ESA) has challenged the conclusions of the researchers and suggests that the study used “flawed methodology.”
“Gallagher goes on to point out that Gentile conceded in an interview that he was unaware that the sample group for the study was not randomly chosen, but instead comprised of a ‘convenience’ sample of individuals who agreed to participate in the survey.”
This is often a problem you run into when conducting research – true random selection is quite elusive and samples of convenience are certainly not as desirable.
The question is, on a survey asking about videogame habits, who is most likely to respond – those who are light or moderate players, or those who play excessively?
Obviously, your sample selection influences your results – and I suspect that such a study may over-sample somewhat on the hard-core gamer side.
A national study at Iowa State University has concluded that 8.5% of American youths (8 – 18 years old) who play videogames “show multiple signs of behavioral addiction.”
“It’s not that the games are bad.It’s that some kids use them in a way that is out of balance and harms various other areas of their lives.”
As is common in this field, the researchers adapted the diagnostic criteria for gambling addiction to define who is and who isn’t addicted. Gamers were considered “pathological” if they reported 6 of the 11 symptoms.
- Compared to girls, four times as many boys were considered addicted
- Children considered pathological gamers did worse in school
- Those considered addicted were twice as likely to have attention deficit disorder
- 88% of kids play videogames
The Entertainment Software Association (ESA) recently released the annual “Essential Facts About the Computer and Video Game Industry” report.
A few findings:
- 68 % of American households play videogames
- 42% of homes have a gaming console
- The average age of players is 35
- Females make up 43% of online gamers
“This is the new golden age of entertainment software. Our products are now being enjoyed by over two-thirds of Americans”
Also, according to the study, parents are present 92% of the time when games are rented or purchased. If accurate, this is encouraging. Of course, being “present” does not necessarily mean that parents are informed about the content of the purchase…