Counseling Children: Phoenix, Scottsdale, Cavecreek,

 

 

Children and teens that spend a great deal of time on : social media, snapchat, instagram, you tube, Netflix, internet sites, hulu, facebook, texting or playing video games are not typically dealing with family and school and healthy habits. Some children may have a balance in their lives however most do not and are far out of balance and need to regain balance for health and success

 

Child and teen depression is real. Many children and teens have taken their lives due to depression. Children have : pain, trauma, loss, grief, anger, sadness, trauma and depression as well as many other challenges. Children have challenges at school, with family relationships, peer relationships, academics, emotional and behavioral issues.

Children feel : sad, lonely, and have pain and stress just like adults, however, many children do not have the skills and maturity or the tools to cope with depression.

Experts state social media does not bring people together and many times it simply isolates youth and young adults. Using more than two hours of social media per day doubled the chances a youth or young adult would fill lonely or isolated.

Many children and teens are depressed or have signs of depression. Many children and teens are struggling with : family issues, divorced families, academics, blended families, low self esteem, poor social skills, peer pressure, hormonal changes, grief and loss. Many times teens will stuff their thoughts and feelings . Some teens hide in their room and avoid communication. Some teens are on their Smart Phones, TV, Netflix, and Video games. Too much of anything is not ok and parents can ask themselves is my son or daughter in balance or out of balance with their habits? Below is a story of a Tempe Teen that was depressed and it ended tragically. The good news is there are signs of depression and the sooner one gets help the better. After the article there is a list of some red flags your child may be depressed. There are experts in treating child and teen depression through counseling and therapy and other treatments.

I have worked with thousands of teens with depressed moods and depression. Moving to a new school, change, academic pressure, not getting along with mom or Dad, negative thinking, low self esteem, social dynamics, past challenges are being carried around by children and teens and these items need to be addressed to create health and balance.

A tragedy happened at a Tempe, Arizona High school yesterday . A student athlete committed suicide at a Tempe High school not far from Arizona State University.

Teen and child depression is on the rise and can not be ignored. Depression is not an adult disorder . Millions of children and teen adolescents feel depressed and there are a slew of reasons today that impact a child or adolescents mood.

A child or teen does not have to have had a traumatic childhood in order to be depressed . A teen can have loving parents and spiritual parents and feel depressed.

As a safety measure parents should lock up all pills , medications , guns, knives , blades , weapons at all times regardless of a child’s mood. Parents should lock up all alcohol as well . Parents should monitor social media, smart phones , video game dialogue , texting , and be as involved as they can with their child or teen . Some parents would say it is an invasion of privacy however better safe than sorry . Children state they are excelling in the classroom and passing all classes however parents must still verify and look at report cards and look at missing homework assignments. Teens spend a lot of time w electronic devices and those that are in their room and not communicating daily with parents . They must get off these devices and communicate with parents about their day in detail . If not a parent has no idea why is going on mentally , physically , and emotionally with ones children .

Setting limits and boundaries and requiring family interaction is vital . Spending one on one time with your teen is important and will help find out what is going on in their lives . Make it a requirement before they use their : video games , computers , smart phones etc . Schedule one on one time with each child and this lets them know they are important as well as they are more likely to share information with you than in front of the whole family . Most children will not share their true pain or depressed mood in front of the whole family or at dinner .

I find wonderful children and teens that have very negative thought processes about themselves . Children that are excellent students and athletes still can be very depressed . Many suffer from low self esteem and many suffer from social or peer challenges . Many are depressed about family dynamics and school pressures.

The best approach is to have someone who works w children and parents guide you to help create balance and learn tools to manage depression , anxiety , self esteem, family issues and more .

Teens face a myriad of pressures , from changes in development to questions about who they are and where they are going w peers, school, and their future. The natural transition toward adulthood can bring parental challenges and conflict as the adolescent teen pushes for their independence .

It is not simple to differentiate between depression and teen mood swings . Some teens that are depressed are not sad or withdrawn . Many depressed teens are angry , full of rage , defiant, and irritable and this may be depression.

Some signs of depression in teens are: sadness , hopelessness , irritability , anger , hostility , frequent crying or tears , withdrawal from family and friends, loss of interest in activities , change in eating habits or sleep habits , agitation, restless , guilt, worthless feelings , concentrating issues , thought of death, suicidal thoughts and more.

It is best to have a professional assessment from a professional who has expertise in teen and children .

There are many signs that may indicate your teen is down or depressed or is suffering from depression.

Some red flags that should not be ignored are: sadness , crying, tearfulness, hopelessness, a decrease in activities , inability to enjoy activities that were enjoyable.

Low energy, isolation, poor communication and a lack of connection w family and friends is a sign that something is going on that needs attention. Increased irritability and anger and rage are common w depressed children and teens.

Physical complaints : stomach aches , pain , etc are signs your teenmay be depressed. Changes in sleeping habits and or eating patterns is a red flag as well .

Self destructive behaviors, suicidal thoughts, self harming, drug andalcohol abuse are signs your child need help asap!

Parents should seek professional help if any of the above are going onas soon as possible. Depression is a very serious condition that impacts : thoughts, mood,

and behaviors. Teen depression can be treated .

Teens face many stressors and pressures. Transitioning from child to an adult. Figuring out who they are and what they want to do with life . Hormonal changes and wanting to fit in socially are just a few. Teens with depression do not always appear sad. Many teens display anger and irritability and aggression. Long lasting changes in mood, behavior, personality are all huge red flags that your teen needs professional help.

Some common symptoms for teen depression are: hopelessness , sad, blue, loss of interest in activities, withdrawal from friends and family , crying and frequent tears, changes in eating , changes in sleeping, agitation , restlessness, little motivation , lack of energy or excitement , fatigue , difficulty concentrating , thoughts of death , suicide or self harm.

There are many excellent counseling tools to help elevate mood and treat depression. CBT therapy looks at unhealthy thoughts that have no facts to support them and how these thoughts impact mood. DBT has a few elements: awareness/mindfulness, distress tolerance/mood regulation, interpersonal effectiveness. These are all research based and evidence based counseling techniques that have been used for decades with positive results. There are many other effective techniques that can be used to create health and balance for your child or teenager.

Lifeworks Az has a specialization in child and teen depression counseling and therapy, child adolescent counseling, family counseling, family therapy in Phoenix Arizona, Scottsdale Arizona and serves valley wide.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Video Games

 

Research on Video game and TV watching over the past few decades show that their is a correlation between the time playing video games and watching TV and aggression. Thousands of research study show that the more TV viewing and the more video game the more aggression displayed. Eliminating video games and smart phone games and TV is almost impossible however , setting limits each day on electronic is essential to your child’s success. Children and teens need time to develop: social skills, interpersonal skills, communication skills, conflict resolution, listening skills, problem solving skills, mood and stress management skills, physical exercise and more. It is clear that their is an imbalance in healthy activities for youth in America.

Diabetes and obesity are sky rocketing. Mood disorders are on the rise. Anxiety, depression, and substance dependence are on the rise. Social skills are on the decline. Insomnia is on the rise. Violence and aggression in youth and conduct disorders are on the rise.

Most parents view video games as” entertainment.” their content is not taken as seriously as that of the passive act of watching TV. After all, most adults today grew up playing pong, pac man, asteroids, space invaders, or defender. Nevertheless, what many parents might not realize is that the challenge for many players today is to rack up points by killing prostitutes after having sex with them. Video games have not only become more violent, the characters have become more real, and the effects that they are having on society, specifically women is shocking. Video games have engaged the “once spectator” to actively participate in addictive violence. Recent studies have undoubtedly concluded that the violence and negative reinforcements in video games have not only successfully promoted violence against women by desensitization, but they have also increased aggressive behavior in children and teenagers to a level that has devastated the lives of many.

Many people are shocked to discover that the video game industry is larger than the film industry. The Interactive Digital Software Association reported that video games are “the fastest growing entertainment industry in America, surpassing books, records and movie box offices combined” (Berger 2002).The video game industry projected sales for 2015 will be  128 Billion dollars annually .In 1997 the video and computer game industry generated 16 Billion dollars in economic activity, this does not include computer and video game hardware sales. In the year 2000 it became a 20 billion dollar industry and is still growing considerably (Berger, 2002). IDSA also reported at the time sixty five percent of all Americans age six and older, or about 145 million people, play computer and video games (Berger 2002). The video game industry has increased exponentially since 2002. It is stated that video games, many times is the initial experience that children have with the computer/ technology world. So, if boys tend to be the primary target of the industry, which, they are, what effect does it have on girls. In 2014 the video game industry generated over 103 Billion dollars in one year.

If a child’s interest begins with games. most common computer games involve violence and aggressive themes have the effect of turning girls away from the computers in general. This is one way of keeping women out of power. After all, these are male dominated industries. Since computer literacy is essential in most jobs, people who are exposed to computers earlier in life have an obvious advantage. The boys who outnumber the girls in gaming, will be the men who out-number the women in the business world. This may lead to the girls becoming less interested in the world of computers as a career. Girls are not the only ones who are not enamored with video games. Parents are unaware of the violence that is being reinforced hundreds of thousands of times in their child’s brain.

Teenagers report that 95 percent of the time their parents do not check the ratings or the content of video games being purchased. Ninety percent of parents do not set limits on how much time their child can play video games.

We have seen an alarming increase in violence and school shooting. Shootings at Paucah, Kentucky, Jonesboro, Arkansas, and Littleton, Colorado were all cases where the shooters were students who habitually played violent video games. The bloody game Doom was Eric Harris and Dylan Klebold’s favorite game ( they wounded 23 and killed 13). Two studies examined violent video games effect on aggression related variables. The first study found that real-live violent video games are positively related to aggressive behavior and delinquency. the second study showed lab exposure to a violent video game increased aggressive thoughts and and behaviors. The results are in line with the General Affective Aggression Model, which predicts that exposure to violent video games will increase aggressive behavior in both the short term and the long term ( Calvert, Jordan, Cocking 2000)

A study of about 329 children and media violence was done over a 21 year period by L. Rowell Huesmann at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research. Girls and boys participated. This was one of the few studies that followed children into adulthood, which enabled researchers to gauge the long term effects of televised violence. Men in the top twenty percent on childhood exposure to violence were twice as likely as adults to have pushed, grabbed or shoved their wives. The women who scored in the 20 percent were twice as likely to throw something at their husbands. the study concluded that both girls and boys exposed to a lot of televison violence have a greater risk of spousal abuse and criminal offenses, no matter what they were like as children( Ritter, M., 2003). This study was based specifically on violence, however, most video games today are also including very graphic sexually violent images, which are destroying women and the morality of society as a whole.

The effects of viewing sexually violent images was researched and discussed by Ed Donnerstein, Dean and Professor of Communications at the University of California, Santa Barbara.  In his study, young adults ages 18-20 were shown a one hour documentary on battered women. After watching the film, the viewers showed less empathy toward the victims. They lowered their evaluation on the level of injury that the women received. They also under estimated the level of pain that must have been experienced. Both men and women were more likely to display indifference toward the victims. many blamed the rape on the ladies and believed that the women brought it to themselves. It is clear that watching these images are negative, however, the video game industry uses reinforcement tactics to hook children, teens, and adults making the game, not just interactive but addictive. Violence in America and against women has increased since the rise of video games across the country. These games are highly addictive and use many psychological reinforcement principles to hook children to wanting to continue to play. Many youth are playing video games 40 hours a week.

Violence was declared the number one health problem for women in 1992, sadly, recent studies have concluded that the problem is not decreasing ( Violence, Women, and  the Media, 2000). For example , consider the following statistics: the single major cause of injury to American women is domestic violence, exceeding gang violence, muggings, murders, and accidents ( The Commonwealth Fund, 1993). In the US, one women is raped every two minutes (National Crime Victimization survey, 1996). One in every seven women has been raped in her life time (Daily News, November 18,1998). Also, In America a woman is physically abused every nine seconds ( The Commonwealth Fund, July 1993). In emergency rooms more than one third of American women have suffered physical or sexual abuse ( Sternberg S. 1999) And a staggering thirty percent of women murdered in the US are killed by their husbands, ex-husbands or boyfriends ( national Crime Victimization Survey,1996). Researchers have found that the way the media depicts women influences how women are viewed and treated in society( Violence, Women, and the Media, 2000). For example, many video games are very degrading and often depict women as victims of violence. Also many video games also portray women as sex objects.

In the year 2000 half of the top selling video games contained negative images about girls according to (Children, Now 2000). For example unrealistic body images, high pitched voices,fainting, violence, and provocative sexuality is promoted.

Twenty eight percent of games in a study show women as inferior and powerless. In games like Grand Theft Auto boys are taught women can be treated brutally and this is reinforced in the video game.

Players of Grand Theft Auto get rewarded if they kick and kill the prostitute to death after they have sex with her. Sounds shocking, but it is true and is one of the most popular video games among children and teenagers in the US. After playing for 4-8 hours a day, these acts of violence begin to seem normal.

In the recent shooting at UCSB the 22 year old male stated many phrases in his you tube video regarding slaughtering women and others. He also stated that video games were a way for him to avoid: rejection, loneliness, humiliation, depression, and pain from not having a girlfriend and not having what he wanted sexually and in  relationships. The UCSB shooter mimicked many specific phrases from the video game World Of War Craft relating to specific violence and rage. The UCSB shooter also played: Diablo, and Halo as well as many other video games.

Anders Breivik, the right-wing extremist who has confessed to killing 77 people during a murder spree in Norway last summer, played the violent computer game World of Warcraft nearly seven hours a day for several consecutive months before his attack, prosecutors say.

Breivik, 33, already known to have a long history with the online role-playing game, was particularly absorbed by it between November 2010 and February 2011, when he played for an average of 6 hours and 50 minutes per day, according to prosecutors.

Two decades of research had shown that repeated exposure to violence blunts emotional reactions and makes people less likely to help others in need ( Levine, 1996). Perfectly normal people no longer recognize violence because it is so prevalent in the media. People grow numb to violence with repeated exposure via media. People become less responsive to human pain and begin to lose awareness of what it means to be human.

Before the Vietnam War, fewer than 20 percent of soldiers on the front lines would actually fire at the enemy, however, with games such as Doom used as conditioning tools fdor the soldiers, the US military kill rate increased to (0 percent in Vietnam. With video games, our military scientifically overcame the soldier’s innate resistance to killing ( game Over, 2000) Violent video games are the mental equivalent of putting an assault rifle in the hands of every American child. By sitting mindlessly, killing countless thousands of fellow members of their own species without any ramifications or repercussions, operant conditioning concepts transfer immediately when the individual gets a real weapon in their hand and are being taught violence. The recent school shootings in 2008 and 2007 serve as an example of a link between video games and heightened aggressive behaviors.

For the video game child/ teenager or gamer, beating a previous high score, or winning a free game, or having sex with a prostitute is all part of Skinnerian reinforcement. behavior that is followed by reinforcement will increase in frequency. In short, video games that make a child or teen or adult feel good will be played again and again. A partial reinforcement schedule will lead to behavior that occurs more often with and is more resilient to extinction than does a continuous reinforcement schedule. These two effects of partial reinforcement produce what is considered addictive behavior. These irregular schedules of reinforcement are in part, what cause these video games to be so exciting and desirable. Tis kind of reinforcement, which causes addictive behaviors can explain why their is an increase in the video game industry as a whole.

The AMA states that anywhere in the world where TV appears, 15 years later the murder rate doubles. Ten thousand murders per year, 70,000 rapes, and 700,000 assaults. We must consider the impact of violent video games on the minds and behaviors of our society. The evidence is clear violence breeds more violence in the majority of situations.

Many children are having challenges sleeping at night and have great anxiety. The children report that their nightmares are specific to the video games they are playing. Research shows a lack of sleep impacts: mood, anger, depression, and behavior as well as performance.

The 93 Billion dollar Video game industry must be taken seriously. It must start with education and healthy parenting. It must come with boundaries and limitations. It must come with healthy communication and listening to children and teenagers. It must come from healthy role modeling from parents. The video game industry is no different than access to violence on TV or on the internet. Violence and abuse physically, mentally, emotionally, and sexually is not ok!

There are 100’s of violent video games out there one is: Call of Duty Black Ops:This gritty, extremely violent military first-person shooter (pictured above) involves constant killing using realistic weapons, with blood and gore pouring across the screen during more intense scenes. Cinematic sequences can be even more dramatic and graphic, with soldiers and civilians alike dying in horrible ways, including graphic melee kills, people burning to death, civilians killed in crossfire, torture, and a shipping container filled with rotting corpses. In one scene, the player steps into the shoes of a villain and goes on a murderous rampage against soldiers, the screen turning red with blood rage as he takes damage. This M-rated game also has frequent profanity, some sexual themes, and drug use.

Do you want your child assaulting woman? Killing prostitutes? Raping people? This is what is going on in many video games above and beyond brutal violence.

Do we really want our children actively involved and engaged in violent games daily; the same type of games that the US military uses to increase kill rates at war? Garbage in garbage out. We must find healthy activities that create health and balance for our youth and violent video games is not the solution.

Written by David R Abrams

MAPC, LPC, CAGS

Lifeworks AZ  Phoenix Arizona, Scottsdale Arizona

Child Teen Family Counseling and Therapy

 

Articles are not to be taken as a substitute for professional advice or counseling.