Monday October 14, 2019
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Outdoor games make kids smarter

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By Nishant Arora

If the news of two Delhi brothers who were so hooked to video games that they became too lazy to even go to washroom and were treated in a rehab facility for a month shocked you to the core, it is time to take a serious look at how much time your kids are spending on latest video gaming consoles like Xbox and PlayStation at home.

The video game addiction is for real and despite several recent studies telling us that they can make your kids sharper and smarter, it is time for parents to do a reality check before it gets too late.

“The video gaming addiction can lead to various health hazards in kids. Little, dedicated time on video gaming is fun but when kids get hooked to games, shun outdoor activities, avoid socialisation, cut on their sleep time and start loosing interest in most other things, that is when it become a grave concern,” Dr. Samir Parikh, director, department of mental health and behaviourial sciences at Fortis Healthcare, told IANS.

Last December, researchers from the University of Utah US released findings that showed that brains of compulsive video game players are wired differently.

While some of the changes are predicted to help game players respond to new information, other changes are associated with distractibility and poor impulse control, the researchers noted.

“Those with internet gaming disorder are obsessed with video games, often to the extent that they give up eating and sleeping to play,” says senior study author Jeffrey Anderson, associate professor of neuroradiology in a paper published in the journal Addiction Biology.

According to Dr. Shobhana Mittal, consultant psychiatrist at Cosmos Institute of Mental Health & Behavioural Sciences (CIMBS) in New Delhi, video gaming stimulates the dopamine neurotransmitter pathways in the brain – thereby making it an addictive activity for some.

“Instant gratification of pleasure experienced during gaming can lead to poor impulse control in children. Spending too much time on gaming can deeply impact a child’s physical health as well as psycho-social well being,” Mittal told IANS.

Another study that came out last October surprisingly found that children whose parents are very anxious and emotional are likely to play more violent video games tha their peers.

“It is not surprising that warmer and more restrictive parents, or what we call authoritative, are most effective at reducing the amount of violent video games played by their children,” said Russell Laczniak, professor of marketing at Iowa State University.

Researchers identified the effect in all children, but it was stronger for boys and first-borns.

The best solution, however, lies at home only.

“Parents need to encourage outdoor activities, help children develop hobbies, encourage them to interact more with friends. If they feel that children are spending too much time on online gaming, then must talk to a counsellor if the duration is not reduced,” Parikh advised.

Parents need to set appropriate limits for their children with regards to the type of video games permitted and time spent on them.

“Video games at a very young age should be avoided, so that children can have an opportunity to develop other interests and hobbies at this age,” Mittal added.

Children should be encouraged to participate in alternate fun activities depending on their interest, including playing outdoor sports, music, dance, art or interacting with other children their age, which would contribute to a child’s all-round development.

“If parents want to reduce the amount of violent video games that their kids play, be warm when dealing with them, but somewhat restrictive at the same time and set rules and those rules will work,” Laczniak suggested in a paper that appeared in the Journal of Consumer Affairs.

In your childhood, you also must have played platform games like “Street Fighter,” “Pacman” and the quintessential “Mario” on those huge coin-operated machines in dingy ice-cream parlours with joysticks and buttons — amid the constant threat of being caught by your parents.

But, warn health experts, parents must realize that video gaming is now part of their home settings and must be restricted — especially where both parents are working – to watch your kids grow healthier and smarter. (IANS)

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Here’s Why Americans Spend Billions On The Fantasy Football

During the season when players get hurt, you’ve got to change your lineup, add people from the waivers

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Many fantasy football leagues hold draft parties, when league players get together to select their team’s players before the start of the season. (Photo by Flickr user David Clow via Creative Commons license). VOA

The first thing Nima Vaez-Zadeh does before starting work during football season is check up on his fantasy football team. “During the season when players get hurt, you’ve got to change your lineup, add people from the waivers,” the 30-year-old says. “You do spend up to an hour during lunch or whatever kind of monitoring everything, making sure you’re picking up the right people and your lineups are set.”

Fantasy football is a competition in which participants create imaginary teams from among the actual players in the National Football League (NFL). They score points based on the actual performance of their players in the real games. Money is often part of the equation. Each fantasy football participant contributes a certain amount of money to his or her respective league, which is won by the top player or players at the end of the season.

trophy, soccer, america
Fantasy football players like Nima Vaez-Zadeh often vie for the right to win their league’s trophy for a year. Fantasy football players like Nima Vaez-Zadeh often vie for the right to win their league’s trophy for a year. VOA

Washington-based Vaez-Zadeh, a key account manager in the hospitality world, is one of an estimated 12.5 million adults in the United States who will play fantasy football this year. But some estimate the number is actually much higher.

The Fantasy Sports and Gaming Association (FSGA) says there are 59 million fantasy sports players in the United States and Canada, and that about 39 million of those players prefer fantasy football. Overall, the fantasy sports industry is worth more than $7 billion a year, according to FSGA.

Like many Americans, Vaez-Zadeh has been playing fantasy football for years. And he doesn’t just take part in one competition. This season, he’s participating in four different fantasy football leagues with, in order, high school friends, college friends, co-workers and relatives.

“I enjoy it. You know my dream growing up was always to be, like, a GM [general manager] of a professional team,” he says. “This is the closest I’ll ever get to it, so it kind of makes me feel like I could put together a super team on my own and monitor that.”

But is that fun costing U.S. employers billions of dollars?

“We’re anticipating that fantasy football is going to cost employers this year around $9 billion in lost wages being paid to workers that are otherwise being unproductive participating in fantasy football activities in the office when normally they would be working,” says Andrew Challenger, vice president of outplacement firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas.

Although there’s no conclusive way to track employer losses, Challenger estimates workers will spend 30 minutes daily during work hours — outside of breaks or their lunch hour — checking on their players, proposing trades and doing related research.

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But Challenger doesn’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing. In fact, he thinks it would be a mistake for employers to crack down on fantasy football in the workplace, especially with smartphones and social media already providing lots of distractions for workers.

“Fantasy football is one of those few areas that employers can insert themselves,” Challenger says. “They can start their own league, and it gets people within the office talking to each other, often people from different departments within your organization … and we feel like that’s a really good investment for companies in terms of the culture of their organizations, employee morale and camaraderie.”

Challenger has seen these results firsthand. His company sanctions an official fantasy football league.

“We have a trophy that you get your name engraved on at the end of each season and get to keep that on your desk all year,” he says. “So, it’s kind of a fun non-monetary incentive.”

Vaez-Zadeh’s workplace doesn’t run an official league, but he says members of the leadership team do participate in the office fantasy football league.

Of course, everyone wants to win, but for Vaez-Zadeh, a key benefit of fantasy football is keeping in touch and interacting with old friends during the 17-week NFL season.

“A lot of you will do a live draft, so everyone plans a weekend to get together so you get to see each other,” he says. “Every year, you already have something on the books where you’ll see each other again. It gives you bragging rights for the year, too.” (VOA)