Dear Parents/Carers

Having survived two teenagers, one with a passion for computer games and online gaming (or was it an obsession??) I have been reading with interest the latest updates from the World Health Organisation and I thought you might be interested; especially those with children who love online gaming with their friends!

Ten years ago, the WHO began a research programme to monitor the impact of online gaming on health and well being of children and adults. Now, as a result of their findings they had taken the decision to include ‘Gaming Disorder’ on their list of international illnesses from next year. They concluded that playing computer games, including online gaming excessively is having a dramatic effect on the mental health of the players.

A digital report out earlier this month warned children need more education about the risk of technology and protection from ‘auto-play’ functions on computer games which keep them playing by automatically moving to the next level, so that they are less likely to stop.

Action games like Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto have been found to deplete a key memory centre in the brain called the hippocampus.

Just to note, the part of the brain called the hippocampus helps to form memories and facilitate learning. Additionally, the hippocampus is part of the limbic system, and is heavily involved in producing emotions. If someone suffers damage to their hippocampus, it can cause them emotional or memory-related problems.

Whilst I am not suggesting that all children and adults who play online games have a mental health problem, it is interesting to note the results of long term research on overall learning and mental well being. This is something that I will share with KS2 children this term, but you may wish to discuss it with your own child and help them understand the impact of gaming sessions, on themselves and their own learning.

If you want further information on keeping safe online, please check out our website. Under the Kids Zone section there are two web links that offer support to both parents and children.

Best Regards

Diane Smales