Video Gaming as a Varsity Sport Juxtaposed Against the Dark Side of Teen Internet Abuse

kids

 

You know that old saying “you learn something new everyday”? Well, today I learned something that really surprised me but at the same time, alot of things that drive education and economic policy are making more sense.

Technology has really gotten a strangle hold on our kids. How?

Case in point – much to every parents chagrin, video games are now officially not considered a waste of valuable time in the US in fact, your child can be rewarded with a full scholarship for gaming talents dont you know.

http://img.rt.com/files/news/2d/54/80/00/video_games_480p.mp4?event=download

Students are getting paid to game at an Illinois university in the first season of its eSports varisty team.

There are 35 students on the eSports team at Robert Morris University in Aurora, the first school to categorize playing video games as a varsity sport, even offering scholarship funds for the “athletes.” The team meets every weekday for practice between 4 and 9 p.m., with an hour break for dinner, and competitions are every Saturday.

The eSports athletes are expected to go to class just like any other student.

When they finish class, they walk to the arena for gaming practice instead of going to the gym.

The high-end gaming arena was built specifically for the eSports team. The school got more than 100 applications for the 35 spots, and players get up to a 50-percent scholarship covering tuition and room and board.

The eSports athletes play “League of Legends” and battle club teams from other universities every Saturday.

Read more about the varsity gaming program here:

http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/video-game-athlete-college-scholarship/story?id=26757455

The idea that those who play video games for a living have much in common with high level professional athletes might be laughable to some.

But some argue that esports deserve the same respect even if their physical fitness is different.

The U.S. Government recently changed its policies to accept esports as an official athletic, competitve international sport. In the past foreign players from Asia, Europe and elsewhere found it difficult to enter the United States to play in gaming tournaments because Visas are notoriously tricky, and coming to a country to play a video game isn’t always the easiest sell.

Thats all changed.

The U.S. finally now recognizes eSports players as professional athletes, and will grant them Visas under that identifier.

http://www.forbes.com/sites/insertcoin/2013/07/14/the-u-s-now-recognizes-esports-players-as-professional-athletes/

 

ESPN recently began broadcasting esport tournaments.

http://ftw.usatoday.com/2014/07/espn-dota-2-international-esports

 

The Esports Association of America was launched to govern gaming in the USA. In November 2014 the 6th Esports world championship was hosted in Azerbejian.

Screen Shot 2014-11-30 at 12.58.38 PM

http://fpde.pt/esaa/

But some critics take issue with schools encouraging students to play video games all day.

The internet replaces drugs as the addiction of choice.

http://www.dailydot.com/lifestyle/teens-drugs-internet-addiction/

Internet addiction has been linked to ADHD and depression in teens.

http://www.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/10/05/depression.adhd.internet.addiction/index.html

So, are we  promoting something that’s clinically addictive and passing it off as college sanctioned sport?

Compulsive Internet use has been categorized as a mental health issue in many countries, including the United States, but China was among the first to label “Internet addiction” a clinical disorder.

Op-Doc: China’s Web Junkies http://nyti.ms/1bTJzfR

In this Op-Doc video, we show the inner workings of a rehabilitation center where Chinese teenagers are “deprogrammed.” The Internet Addiction Treatment Center, in Daxing, a suburb of Beijing, was established in 2004. It was one of the first of its kind – and there are now hundreds of treatment programs throughout China and South Korea. (The first inpatient Internet addiction program in the United States recently opened in Pennsylvania.)

Read more about the making of this Op-Doc video here: http://nyti.ms/1bTJzfR

Korea has over 500 inpatient hospitals in their country dealing with internet addicition. They have national screening days for children to look at gaming addiction and Internet addiction. There’s obviously a problem. And here we have American schools that are going to give you money to come game?

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/treating-chinas-internet-addicts/

Internet addiction is now being treated in  a 4 bed facility here the US as well.

http://www.cnn.com/2013/09/07/health/internet-addiction-treatment-center/

But, the US is behind other countries in treating this problem. China, Korea and Taiwan all have multi bed treatment centers. The US has a 4 bed facility dedicated to internet addiction.
Internet addiction is not classified as a mental illness in the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual but the problem seems to be affecting teens at an alarming rate.

 

With the diagnosis of ADHD on the rise in American teenagers, there is a risk of mislabeling teens with ADHD when the cause of their inattentiveness and falling grades may be related to something else entirely—like anxiety, family issues, or their media-infused lifestyle.

http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/suffer-the-children/201306/internet-addiction-sleep-deprivation-or-adhd

Below is a story of a teen who suffered an Internet addiction so powerful it made him stop eating and even led to him flunking out of school.

http://www.nbcnews.com/id/21134540/vp/56070593#56070593

A hospital in Washington has this to say about internet addiction:

Understanding Teen Internet Addiction

It’s one in the morning and the telltale sliver of light is glowing from under your teenager’s bedroom door. You walk in and demand the computer be turned off – tomorrow is a school day. You are worried about the amount of time your teen spends on the Internet — day and night. Could this be an addiction?

The Internet can be a useful research tool for your teen’s school projects, but using it too much could have a negative effect on your child’s well-being.

Teens who have trouble connecting face-to-face may depend on the Internet as a place where they feel understood by their peers. They may use it as a replacement for social interaction.

“If your teen spends hours in front of a computer screen each day, he or she could be missing out on other creative, physical or social activities,” says Sarah Garwood, MD, adolescent medicine physician at St. Louis Children’s Hospital.

“While teens might use the social networking sites like Facebook to connect with others, spending too much time on the Internet can actually lead to social isolation in some teens. It is also crucial to keep in mind that Internet addiction may be a symptom of an underlying problem like depression.”

If your child’s grades begin dropping, or if he or she complains of being tired all the time, the Internet could be to blame.

Other warning signs of Internet addiction include:

• Diminished interest in activities your teen once enjoyed
• Feelings of distress or anxiousness when your teen cannot use the Internet
• Secret Internet usage
• Withdrawal from activities with family and friends

Breaking the cycle of Internet addiction can be initiated by keeping the computer in a room other than your child’s bedroom –like the den or family room.

“If your child is shy or has difficulty with social interactions, consider a social skills class and try to encourage or facilitate activities that connect your child to teens with similar interests”, says Dr. Garwood. Some examples are small groups like scouts, sports, band, choir, church or synagogue activities – places where your son or daughter can be accepted and develop friendships.

While Internet addiction is not an official diagnosis, if you worry your teen spends too much time online, St. Louis Children’s Hospital is committed to helping your teen get back on track.

http://wuphysicians.wustl.edu/page.aspx?pageID=1288

What warning signs should you look for in your teen? Here are some other red flags:

Craving more time on the computer and Internet
Neglecting friends and family
Feeling restless when not engaged in the activity
Computer use interfering with school performance
Being dishonest with others
Withdrawing from other pleasurable activities

Indeed, here in the USA, DSMV acknowledges- Internet Gaming Disorder, but it is under further study and is not considered an official disorder.

Screen Shot 2014-11-30 at 12.12.13 PM

http://www.dsm5.org/Documents/Internet%20Gaming%20Disorder%20Fact%20Sheet.pdf

Read one teens story here:

http://www.today.com/parents/secret-life-teens-internet-addiction-changes-boy-shell-son-1D80153806

With education and economic policy moving kids  away from personal interaction and online, one has to wonder whether this trajectory is really a good idea.

 

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