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The Therapy Room: Risks and rewards of online gaming

Posted on 15 June 2017 by LeslieM

Are you a “Gamer?” Someone who consistently spends time playing online video games on a personal computer (PC), console or a mobile device, such as a smartphone or tablet at least three to four times a week. Today, there are 2.2 billion gamers worldwide generating over $108.9 billion in revenue.

Playing online games over the Internet has become second nature. Millions of users enjoy playing with their family, friends and strangers competitively, and just for fun. The current on-board hardware of gaming consoles, PCs and other mobile devices can only offer certain levels of performance. The capabilities of cloud computing has the attention of gaming developers and gaming will see non-time sensitive processes, such as artificial intelligence taken on by cloud servers.

Many of my Psychotherapy patients, ranging in ages from 10 to 90 years, are gamers. Those with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) experience positive interaction with peers and develop social skills playing a game called Minecraft. A CEO plays online games that involve strategy and skill while traveling on business. A freelance writer has joyfully confessed that she was a Pac-Man fanatic in the 1980s and continues playing Pac-Man online today. She told me she learned a life lesson playing Pac-Man, that you don’t always have to keep going or playing fast to meet goals, you can actually achieve great thing by stopping or being still. An accountant believes that if the time and energy put into gaming were applied to something worthwhile, positive results would be endless. There are numerous opinions, as well as risks and rewards, when it comes to online gaming. Let’s highlight a few:

Rewards:

Gaming allows you to interact online with other people and be social.

No need to disclose your identity (unless you want to); you can use a fictitious name.

Gamers have fun and experience good feelings about self and others while playing various online games.

Risks:

Absenteeism from work, school and other commitments can be high due to competing in and playing online games.

Relationships may suffer due to a partner’s invested time playing online games and interactions that develop with other gamers.

All ages play online games; a child might represent them self as an adult and an adult may present as a child.

There are dangerous “games” (For example, those introducing swallowing cinnamon, huffing and more).

Parents be aware of a game’s child safety measures and guidelines. Understand what single player and realms are and monitor your child’s online playtime.

Online gaming is here to stay! Rather than dismiss it, be curious and ask your children, and others, about their online gaming knowledge and experiences. Gaining new insight to others’ interests allows you to realize that within you … change is possible.

Dr. Julia Breur is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with a private clinical psychotherapy practice in Boca Raton. For more information, visit www.drjuliabreur.com.

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THE THERAPY ROOM: ADHD or Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder

Posted on 18 May 2017 by LeslieM

Have you noticed the new fidget widget toys being sold at retail and online stores? When played with, these toys help alleviate stressful behavior. Fidget widgets are popular with ADHD children and adults, but what exactly is ADHD?

Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder is one of the most common neurobehavioral disorders of childhood and it has had numerous names, including “learning behavior disability” and “hyperactivity.” In 1987, the disorder’s name was refined to Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD, and only recently have clinicians acknowledged that the symptoms of ADHD may continue into adulthood.

The essential feature of ADHD is a persistent pattern of inattention and/or hyperactivity-impulsivity that interferes with functioning or development. Inattention manifests behaviorally as wandering off tasks, lacking persistence, having difficulty maintaining focus and being disorganized but not due to defiance or lack of comprehension. Hyperactivity is excessive motor activity, excessive fidgeting, tapping or talkativeness. Impulsivity are hasty actions that occur in the moment without prior thought and have potential for harm to the individual, looking for immediate rewards, inability to delay gratification, social intrusiveness and even making fast decisions without considering potential consequences.

ADHD affects boys more than girls. The condition tends to run in families and no one knows how many adults continue to be affected by the remnants of this disorder. Alcoholism, divorce and other family disruptions are common markers associated with ADHD.

There is no single test to diagnose ADHD. Healthcare providers diagnose ADHD with the help of the standard guidelines from the American Academy of Pediatrics or the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). Also, a medical exam is usually recommended to include vision and hearing screenings.

Here are some tips for parents with a child diagnosed with ADHD:

Remain calm: a child’s anger will only escalate if a parent becomes angry. Diffuse, do not engage!

Help your child make good choices: During homework time, ask your child, “Do you want to do history or math first?” Driving in car ask, “What type of music should we listen to?” or “Should we turn the music off and talk about your school day?”

Do not take behavioral setbacks personally: All children make mistakes and it can be an opportunity for a parent to teach better choices, for example, saying, “We can do this better together.”

Be persistent: Never give up trying to help and teach your child; it may feel like you have explained better choices of behavior 50 times, but that 51st time might lead to signs of positive progress.

Focus on your child’s strengths and take notice of their interests: Your ADHD child may be our future U.S. president or a medical doctor, author, engineer, athlete, teacher, etc. Encourage and involve your child in what interests them. You may also learn a new thing or two along the way and always remember … change is possible!

Dr. Julia Breur is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with a private clinical psychotherapy practice in Boca Raton. For more information, visit www.drjuliabreur.com.

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