Video games and electronic devices are widely used and enjoyed by most people. However, for a very small percentage, gaming can become a problem. The desire to game may interfere with going to school or work, getting chores completed, or spending time with friends and family. On January 22nd and 23rd, Sinneave hosted Cam Adair, a recognized expert in overcoming gaming addiction, for a presentation and full day masterclass on how to recognize and support individuals for whom gaming has become a problem. To an audience of over 200 people, Cam shared his journey from discovering video games when he was young to how he eventually became addicted; playing for 16 hours per day, everyday. Cam described the strategies he used to overcome his addiction. He also discussed his business, Game Quitters, which he created as a resource and to help others overcome problematic gaming and screen-time habits.  Cam’s story is profiled by TELUS in a recently released documentary on video game addiction Click here to watch GAME OVER

Individuals with autism may be at an increased risk of developing unhealthy gaming habits. Gaming may offer individuals with autism a structured and predictable break from the heavy and often difficult social demands that come with typical daily routines. Individuals may prefer to socialize with others within these games and online communities because the interactions are more focused around the game and there is no need to process the complexities of non-verbal communication (compared with face-to-face interactions). Further, video games may give individuals a sense of purpose (going on a quest within the game) and provide immediate positive feedback for success.

For individuals (or their parents) who are considering reducing problematic gaming, several strategies that have been successful were shared by Cam. First, know what games you or your child are playing. Are the games age appropriate? Do they contain graphic images or opportunities to gamble? Is the game a single player or multi-player, and can the game be paused without losing ranking or social status? Second, set clearer boundaries around when and for how long gaming is allowed. Third, consider establishing game free days to be “rewarded” with structured opportunities to game.

For many parents, supporting their children in reducing high-interest activities such as gaming is incredibly stressful. In response to a parent’s attempt at reducing the activity, children may resort to protests (verbal and non-verbal) and may use a variety of other severe problem behaviors; any of which may cause the parent to re-think their decision and simply let the child continue to play so that other problems are avoided. On February 21st, Sinneave will be hosting a free evening workshop on managing challenging behavior (“Problem Behavior: Why Does It Happen And What To Do About It”). In this workshop, participants will learn the reasons why individuals use problem behavior and will discuss a several strategies for how to overcome these challenges.

Visit our website for more details and to register.

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