Focusing on Sydney teen Matthew, who has struggled with an addiction to computer games, this article examines how Australia is doing at treating gaming disorder following its official classification as a disorder by the World Health Organisation.
We hear from Andrew Kinch, founder of Game Aware and former problem gamer, whose mission is to put young people back in charge of balancing their time between gaming and other more necessary activities. This can often involve the young person learning about the psychological need that gaming is providing them, and finding a more suitable real-world alternative. Mr Kinch claims that his firsthand experience as a gamer is crucial in connecting with younger gamers, as he’s able to help them make their own, more informed decisions.
Child psychologist Philip Tam also shares his experience on the prevalence of gaming disorder, as well as the increased susceptibility of ASD youth to gaming disorder. He gives particular warning to parents of children on the autism spectrum to help develop healthy digital practices as early as possible, as this will be much harder to treat later should a disorder develop.
This is the case for Matthew, who has recently undertaken a Game Aware program and hopes to scale back his time spent playing. Only time will tell whether he’s able to put his newfound knowledge into practice.
– Fiona Pepper