Under the Christmas tree, colorful boxes that children wait impatiently to open. Some of them contain video games. The risk of dependency is real. “Too often parents want to please by buying the latest trendy game, but you have to know how to use it”, warns Professor Philippe Duverger, head of the child and adolescent psychiatry department at the Angers University Hospital.

“Offering a video game engages the responsibility of parents”, he says. “I advise them to put games adapted to the age of their children under the tree. We don’t buy games that are forbidden to under 18s if the child is 12 ”.

“The screen is not a nanny”

Impose a time limit based on age “Is important to avoid any dependence”, indicates Philippe Duverger. Prolonged exposure to screens may “Have effects on the body, language, intellectual and psychomotor development of the child”.

“The screen is not a nanny”, reminds the child psychiatrist. “You must not leave the child alone in front of a screen, otherwise it will be captured by it. Images and light fascinate him. He no longer thinks ”. He recommends that parents “Play with their child and discuss with him what he sees and does”.

The exchange is essential for the good development of the child. “Parents have to offer alternatives to screens, like going to the library, to the movies, for a walk or to ride a bike. The child must be offered other activities to fill the emptiness ”.

Video games and alienation

Accumulation games, like “Fortnite Battle Royale” (Epic Games), are to be watched closely by parents. “The problem with these games is that they never end. The child cannot stop playing because to stop is to be a traitor to his group of friends ”, explains Philippe Duverger. “We are talking about digital bulimia”.

Then the addiction begins. “It occurs when the child is engulfed by the screen. He forgets everything, it is only the game that counts. It is no longer a pleasure, but a need. He has fits when he has to stop ”, makes Philippe Duverger known. “The game changes its relationship to others, to the world, to time and to itself”.

The practitioner therefore recommends that parents set limits that can be understood by the child, “Otherwise it will be unbearable for him”. He adds that one should not hesitate to “Be supported by a third party, such as a child psychiatrist, to implement a strategy”.