Screen addiction: 6-year-old boy suffers facial seizures
This boy was playing video games for at least nine hours a day!
Everywhere we go, we often see this familiar sight among young families: children bent over their tablets and phones. Absorbed and cut-off, these children are very much lost in their own digital world. But sadly, this phenomenon is becoming a disease. Even young children are starting to show gaming addiction signs.
A six-year-old Filipino boy has recently developed persistent facial seizures after playing video games for almost nine hours a day. While most of us would find nine hours of video games truly excessive, this is the norm for John Nathan Lising – who was suddenly hit with uncontrollable facial tics on 23 July 2018.
His parents rushed him to the nearest hospital, but according to CT scan results, John’s brain is surprisingly healthy.
There was no real way to medically prove that John's facial seizures are linked to gaming addiction signs, however, doctors did advise his parents to stow away all gadgets and keep them away from their son.
Doctors also mentioned that the symptoms were similar to a disorder named “Focal Seizure”, which affects only one half of the brain. Currently, they are unable to properly diagnose John’s actual condition due to lack of evidence. But it would be wise for us parents to heed the doctor's initial advice: reduce the amount of screen time even if our children are not showing gaming addiction signs.
A couple of red flags that parents should note when looking for gaming addiction signs include:
- unsuccessful control - when it becomes hard for the child to stop using screen media
- loss of interest in everything else - when screen time is all that motivates your child
- lack of social interaction/disengagement - when your child is preoccupied to the point where it interferes with family activities
- withdrawal - when they become irritable when you cut down on their gaming or screen time
- tolerance - playing for increasing amounts of time
- lying - to conceal gaming or sneak in extra screen time
Be firm with the boundaries you've set. And be prepared to be unpopular. While other parents lug gadgets, power banks and earphones, you need to start bringing colour pencils, books, small portable toys, and stickers.
- Find out what is the recommended limit for screen time per age group and stick to those limits. This includes the use of TV, computers and mobile devices. Here are new guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics.
- Make the effort to go offline yourself and spend time doing fun physical activities with your children.
- No TVs and electronic gadgets in your child’s bedroom. Set certain places as "tech-free" zones.
- Set "tech-free" times during meals, homework time and bedtime.
- Start early by teaching your children about the importance of moderation. Praise them when they follow your set boundaries.
- Keep logs and monitor your child's screen time.
Even if there is no medical proof to link gaming addiction signs to facial seizures, WebMD says that stress and sleep deprivation seem to play a role in both the occurrence and severity of motor tics.
There is no actual way to measure stress levels in a person. So stow away your gadgets and focus on physically bonding with your children. They might protest now, but soon they will find that spending quality time with their own folks can be pretty fun too.