Just read a BBC report saying half of British teenagers aren't getting the 9 hours sleep they need. Not only does this affect their developing brains, it also means they under-perform at school. Also it would seem that many of the kids suspected of having clinical issues are actually suffering from nothing more than sleep deprivation. Here's an extract from the research:
"People were being sent to me and were generally being diagnosed with Aspergers, and a lot were being diagnosed as ADHD," she said."I felt the first thing we had to do was to work out a sleep programme for them so that they weren't sleep deprived. Once they weren't sleep deprived, some no longer had ADHD symptoms because the symptoms of hyperactivity and sleep deprivation are pretty similar."I'm not saying they were all free of ADHD but it is a common mistake.Her pilot studies in three Scottish schools suggested 52% of teenagers were sleep deprived, and about 20% reported falling asleep in class at least once in the last two weeks."
My idea to help tackle this was inspired by one of the kids who was interviewed for the research:
Fourteen-year-old Rachel admitted occasionally falling asleep in class because she stayed up late at night playing computer games."If it's a game that will save easily I'll go to bed when my mum says, 'OK you should probably get some rest', but if it's a game where you have to go to a certain point to save I'll be like, 'five more minutes!' and then an hour later 'five more minutes!', and it does mess up your sleeping pattern."For me it takes me about an hour to get to sleep and I'm lying there staring into nothing thinking 'I'm going to play THAT part of the game tomorrow and I'm going to play THAT part of the game the next day."
So my idea is this: Insist games-makers allow players to save at any point, not just when levels are attained.
It won't stop gaming addiction. Nor will it tackle other late night screen distractions like Facebook and YouTube (my own teenager's current addiction). It also won't help in live competitions where other gamers maintain the momentum and where leaving the game usually means losing. But for solitary participation games it could be a step in the right direction. And it would be relatively easy to legislate or at least develop guidelines for games developers who would not want to risk having their games excluded from iTunes and Android phones, or their servers blocked (I'm referring to the growing dominance of cloud based gaming as opposed to the increasingly archaic retailing of games on CDs/DVDs - but the same principle would apply for games developers, however they distribute).
It would seem that the UK gaming industry is largely self-regulated by organisations like the Video Standards Council who publish their Guidelines for Members here. As their name suggests, their origins pre-date computer games so their guidelines (and therefore presumably their executives' focus) seem to be mainly concerned with age certification, censorship, and the restrictions surrounding the marketing of videos. In our age of streaming and cloud-based services (ie where retailers and physical DVDs are rapidly becoming obsolete), their membership is presumably in decline. But they still have the potential to influence regulation and to adapt their guidelines.
... and then there's the blogger's curse. My teenage son wandered by just now. So I asked him to comment on this post. "Most games can be paused, Dad".
"What about online games?"... "Yeh, them too, unless there's an enemy around."
Ho hum. Guess I'd better stick to what I know (see my post about market research!).
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