Kids Help Phone Report Finds Some Alarming Trends in Youth Gaming Habits

TORONTO, Sept. 22 /CNW/ - Today, Kids Help Phone issued its critical issue report - Online Gaming: Child's Play or Obsession? A Kids Help Phone Online Survey - which explores the online gaming habits of youth. Many young people in rural and urban communities across the country spend hours playing games online and there is a growing concern in light of high-profile, gaming related tragedies that have involved youth.

The report is an analysis of responses to an online survey posted to Kids Help Phone's website in English and French, as well as the Kids Help Phone tab on the Windows Live Messenger site. Throughout a four week period from December 2008 to January 2009, almost 2,800 youth from across Canada voluntarily and anonymously provided insight on their online gaming habits.

"While many kids know that their gaming habits have become a problem, they have trouble reaching out for help", said Dr. Janice Currie, Vice President, Counselling Services at Kids Help Phone. "The kids of Canada know that they can talk honestly to a Kids Help Phone counsellor about anything. This includes worries about gaming habits and how to get the help they need to address their problem."

Survey Findings from Online Gaming: Child's Play or Obsession?

An overwhelming majority of kids indicated that they believed that online gaming could be addictive. Other key findings in the survey include:

    
    -   11% of respondents said they didn't think they would be able to stop
        online gaming on their own - a warning sign of online gaming
        addiction;
    -   59% of respondents said that online gaming gets in the way of their
        school work;
    -   56% said online gaming gets in the way of getting adequate physical
        exercise;
    -   44% of survey respondents said their parents do not limit their
        gaming time, but that they limit their own time; 35% said they can
        play online games as often as they want.
    

"It's important for adults and kids to be aware of the potential problems that can arise from excessive online gaming. For some it can lead to an unhealthy obsession or even addiction for others, "said Dr. Currie. "At Kids Help Phone, our professional counsellors work with kids to help them take control of their situation and develop strategies to reach out to a friend, family member or trusted adult for support."

How Parents and Adults Can Help

Addressing an issue like online gaming isn't easy. Talk to the child or teen about your concerns and why you want to work with them to help ensure they have the situation under control. Here are some suggestions on how you can help:

    
    -   Keep your family's computer in a common area of your home so that you
        can monitor your kids' online activities;
    -   Make homework a priority and encourage regular outdoor activities;
    -   Be supportive of a child/teen's online gaming, but negotiate
        reasonable rules and time limits that are age-appropriate; model this
        behaviour yourself by not spending excessive amounts of time online;
    -   Watch for any negative changes in a child's behaviour (including an
        increase in online gaming). Pay particular attention to a child if
        they appear introverted, lonely, isolated, or if they are dealing
        with family or other external problems.

    Find the full report at http://www.kidshelpphone.ca/onlinegaming.
    

Kids Help Phone, a national charity serving children and youth, receives no core government or United Way funding. Instead, it relies on the support of community-based volunteers and individual and corporate donors to ensure that its counselling, information and referral services for kids can continue to operate 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Two upcoming examples of important fundraising initiatives are the AIR MILES Reward Program "Free Gas or Groceries Promotion" beginning October 7 at airmiles.ca/free and the BMO Boo-la-thon in support of Kids Help Phone, a fun, family Halloween-themed bowling event. Visit http://www.kidshelpphone.ca/boolathon to find out about Boo-la-thon locations in your community and to register for this great event.

About Kids Help Phone

This year marks Kids Help Phone's 20th Anniversary. For the past two decades, Kids Help Phone has been at the forefront in providing help and hope through its phone and web counselling services, earning the respect and trust of kids across Canada. When young people feel like there's nowhere to turn, when parents, schools and social services are unavailable, closed, backlogged or simply not accessible for any reason, Kids Help Phone is there. Young people know that when they reach out to Kids Help Phone, any time of the day or night, they'll be connected with a professional counsellor who can provide immediate, kid-friendly insight, help and direction on a wide variety of key and emerging issues.

Last year, Kids Help Phone counsellors connected with kids in almost 3,000 Canadian communities more than 2.2 million times. By continuing to reach out to kids in meaningful and innovative ways, Kids Help Phone will remain a trusted part of kids' lives for many years to come.

CNW Group is proud to be the official newswire provider for Kids Help Phone.

SOURCE Kids Help Phone

For further information: For further information: Virginia Middleton, Coordinator, Public Relations, Kids Help Phone, T: (416) 586-5437 x 8345, E: virginia.middleton@kidshelpphone.ca


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