Technology and mental disorders in children
The World Health Organization has recently classified “gaming disorder” from playing too much video games as a mental health condition. Medicalxpress.com reports, “The statement confirmed the fears of some parents but led critics to warn that it may risk stigmatizing too many young video players.” Meantime, England’s National Health Service head Simon Stevens told a June 13 conference in Manchester that Britain’s children were experiencing a double epidemic of mental illness and obesity related to social media and online gaming. The UK Telegraph reports that NHS is calling for Facebook, Google and online gaming firms to have a statutory duty of care to protect children from mental health issues and addictive behavior.
The international do-gooders are recognizing the ill effects of too much technology on children and are starting to do something about it, but what about the kids in America? Are video games, social media and violence on streaming video channels impacting America’s kids? Are school shootings and bullying at least partially the result of too much of the wrong content on various technology platforms? What about the obesity problem among children here in the US? Washington Times Contributor Robert Knight has some specific examples in a revealing column “Taking Aim at Young Targets.” Knight expertly points out the violent culture of video games and content available on phones, tablets, computers, and TVs.
Knight writes, “The "Active Shooter" video game is a diabolical instrument created by Anton Makarevskiy, a 21-year-old Russian… Players in "Active Shooter" can be a mass murderer terrorizing a school or a SWAT team member responding. As the game progresses, civilian and police death totals are tabulated on the screen.” Knight aptly points out: “We don't know exactly the impact of violent video games. The media trot out psychologists who assure us that there's no causal relationship to real-life violence. In fact, a recent study claims that 80 percent of mass shooters had no interest in video games. Before we take leave of common sense, we need to ask: If viewing has no effect on behavior, why do merchants invest billions of dollars on ads to influence people's buying choices?”
Knight rhetorically asks if Hollywood liberals think their gun-heavy, ultra-violent content has no effect. He points to “13 Reasons Why,” a fictional Netflix show about why a teen took her life, as an example. He quotes Tim Winter of the Parents Television Council: “Millions of children watched; the Google search term for how to commit suicide spiked 26 percent; and there were news reports of children literally taking their own lives after the series was released." According to CDC, suicide rates among girls aged 10-14 have tripled over the past 15 years. Proverbs 22:6 says, “Train up a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.” As a parent/grandparent/uncle/aunt/brother/sister, we all need to double down on our efforts guide children toward Christ and away from the evils of some technology and its content.