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Online gaming: what’s the fuss?

Wednesday 19 September, 2018

Concerns over the addictive nature of online gaming and its effects will be addressed by a national expert at a free event in Tauranga.

Psychotherapist, and New Zealand’s leading expert on gaming addiction, James Driver will be hosting Gaming - What's The Fuss? on 26 September at Tauranga Boys' College.

It is a chance for parents to hear some reasoned discussion on an emotional topic said Bay of Plenty District Health Board (BOPDHB) registered social worker Caleb Putt, who is part of the organising committee.

“There is an issue and we need to increase people’s awareness and knowledge so they can make some informed decisions,” said Putt, who advised parents to take a balanced approach.

“Just because gaming is causing problems doesn’t necessarily mean the person concerned is a problem gamer. Tiredness and mood changes can be a problem but it does not define a child as a problem gamer.

“There’s an important distinction. A problem gamer is someone who is having issues with a combination of things: sleep, school, face-to-face interaction with friends, missing out on other activities, and home life.”

Putt said gaming could actually be a positive activity and a way for a young person to connect with others, achieve goals and feel good at something.

“However, if they are primarily getting these important needs met from gaming and nowhere else, such as a sense of achievement, a sense of belonging to a community (social contact) and a sense of identity, then this can lead to a problem,” he said.

The BOPDHB's youth alcohol and drugs service, Sorted, developed a pathway to support youth and parents with concerns about gaming a year ago. Putt said he believed it was the only DHB in the country to do so.

“We are receiving more referrals as a service as time goes on but the reason for that is not necessarily that the problem is getting any worse. Firstly, we only set the service up last July and, secondly, the issue is becoming more widely known.”

A lot of recent media attention has focussed on the multi-player, last-man-standing fight game, Fortnite, which has become a global phenomenon. Putt said there was a psychology behind games like Fortnite.

“Games try to engage you on a couple of levels, to hook you into spending more and more time on them, and into spending money. For most this won’t be an issue or might cause some arguments at times, but for a few there can be real problems with real consequences. We hope this event will help our community to understand the difference between the two.”

For more information call Sorted on 07 557 5052 or email sorted@bopdhb.govt.nz

GAMING - WHAT'S THE FUSS?

What: One of New Zealand's leading experts of gaming addiction is coming to Tauranga.

When: September 26, 7pm to 8.30pm

Where: The Graham Young Youth Theatre - Tauranga Boys' College

Cost: Free

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