Tuesday 20 August 2019

Children 'addicted to video games and sleeping in class'

Fortnite: The game is enormously popular among children
Fortnite: The game is enormously popular among children
Laura Lynott

Laura Lynott

Teachers are worried school children as young as seven are "addicted" to video games, with fears that older pupils' exam results are being affected as a result.

Assistant general secretary of the Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI) Moira Leydon said teachers had been "expressing concern about the overuse and amount of time children are spending gaming".

The concerns have been raised as the CEO behind smash-hit game 'Fortnite', Tim Sweeney, has revealed plans to evolve it "beyond being a game".

Ms Leydon said children were attending school "exhausted, falling asleep in class, being hyperactive" after spending too long gaming.

"This is a live issue for teachers," she said, as she called for research into the effects of the overuse of gaming and social media on children's education.

"Research is key and, right now, we don't have that," she said. "Only with that can we then shape policies.

"Teachers will say all the evidence is there - students are not tuned in in class and, of course, it will impact on their grades.

"A child learns in class, so if they're switched off, it will manifest in achievement."

'Fortnite' is the most popular game in the world, with 250 million players.

One Dublin principal claimed children as young as seven were "addicted" to the game. "I have a couple of children in one class, seven-year-olds, who are addicted to 'Fortnite'," she said.

"It's affecting their sleep. One little boy is tired in the morning coming in. I ask were you up last night and he tells me he was on 'Fortnite'.

"These are first-class children, just seven-year-olds. That game is a babysitter for some parents, to keep the children quiet.

"They're not learning turn-taking or social skills. The digital world is affecting their education.

"The children are tired. It's definitely affecting the work they're turning in.

"In class, their concentration is slower, as their games are rapid fire and exciting and they get bored with school work.

"We can't compete with the games, they are affecting children's attention. The digital world is a whole new world and children are navigating it without a guide.

"We can't put this back in its box, it's an addiction, a rush, it's a high, so we need to help parents, to educate them.

"We need to encourage more family time, more physical activity."

The principal said Ireland's schools were already under the strain of trying to "fix" obesity and educate children on mental health and it was "impossible" to do anymore without specific help from Government.

"We can't fix the world in 30 minutes," she said.

She added that every child needs to be taught digital media literacy and every teacher needs to be trained on it. It wasn't enough to expect parents to handle it alone, she added.

Irish Independent

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