Expert addresses task force on video-game addiction

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Expert addresses task force on video-game addiction

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Expert addresses task force on video-game addiction
Matthew Verrilli / Journal Inquirer
Aug 2, 2022

TOLLAND — The Tolland Mental Health and Substance Use Advisory Task Force welcomed an expert on video-game addiction at its meeting on Monday to discuss the issues such an addiction can cause.

Johnny Tok, is a licensed mental health counselor, spoke about the potential harm that video games could have to both mental and physical health.

In teens, Tok said increased screen time and video-game playing can lead to a refusal to go to school, anxiety, depression, poor hygiene, and even family conflict.

Anxiety and depression can continue into adulthood, leading to an inability to hold a job and financial dependence on family members.

Tok said that one of the biggest myths surrounding video-game addiction is that playing video games is an appropriate coping strategy for anxiety and depression. He said it is important to find healthier ways of coping.

Some parents might be OK with video games as opposed to drugs, but Tok said this “should not be a means of complacency.”

The act of playing video games on its own does not define itself as an addiction. Tok said that it only become an addiction when the individual is struggling in school or cannot hold down a job because of increased play time, that it is not helping with anxiety and depression, and when the person does not follow age-appropriate priorities.

Tok found that children form a tech-dependent identity and believe they are nothing without it. This leads to social isolation, as well as a negative self-image, which can contribute to depression.

“Our job is to craft recommendations to help with mental health and substance use issues in our town,” said task force Secretary Jacob Marie.

“In a previous recommendation, we emphasized the need for more in-person interaction and suggested ways the town could promote in-real-life activities for kids,” Marie said. “I could see this potentially becoming part of a follow-up to that recommendation.”

Though the task force hopes to use this information to recommend future town programs, Marie could not speak to how exactly it would be used until the full task force has the opportunity to discuss it.

“I think screen/internet/gaming addiction is one of those issues facing our children and young adults that may be flying under the radar because it is a relatively new issue,” said task force Vice Chairman Madhu Renduchintala. “I hope this will bring some awareness to parents in town and those that work in our public schools so we can recognize the warning signs and provide assistance and resources.”

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