COVID-19 and over-saturation to Gaming and Social Media: Is the mental health of a generation at risk.



Addiction definition: any behaviour that a person craves, finds temporary relief or pleasure in but suffers negative consequences as a result of, and yet has difficulty giving up. In short: craving, relief, pleasure, suffering and impaired control… (Gabor Mate)


  • As a parent, does your child game 90-minutes or more per day?
  • As a parent, do you feel you have lost control of this family/gaming dynamic?
  • Can your child regulate their emotions around media & gaming?
  • Does your child have poor sleep hygiene?
  • Has your child displayed violence towards you or siblings in the home?


The full impact of COVID-19 and the social isolation of a generation of children and teens will only be fully realised in the coming months and years. If other children’s mental health organisations around the country are witnessing what practitioners at The Link are, there may be a transparent addictive Tsunami that is going widely unnoticed, parents need now more than ever to be informed of the dangers. 


In 2006, Dr’s Gordon Neufeld (Clinical Psychologist and internationally renowned authority and public speaker on child development) and Gabor Mate (a retired physician, best selling author and a internationally respected public speaker on addiction and trauma) co-wrote a best selling book entitled, ‘Hold on to your Kids - Why Parents Matter more than Peers.’ This book focused on alienation, peer orientation, attachment and stress & anxiety within children and families and society as a whole. 


Both Neufeld and Mate felt compelled to revisit this book some 13-years later (2019), adding two additional chapters. The last two chapters entitled, ‘The Digital Revolution Bent Out of Shape & A Matter of Timing.’ Both highlight the growing phenomena and rise in saturation levels of media and gaming, set against the loss of parent and child/family interactions. Of greater significance, they highlight the secure attachment of emotional stability, empathy and respect is now being eroded with alarming and distressing consequences.


Studies by Lin & Zhou, (2012) highlighted internet addiction and a lack of processing, attention, decision making and cognitive mastery amongst children exposed to high levels of stimulation. Hong, (2013) reported a reduction in the cortical thickness (the outer part of the triune brain) in teens addicted to gaming. The very area of the brain responsible for what Lin & Zhou highlighted in 2012. In short: the brain is very malleable (neuroplastic) and is susceptible to the environment in the early years and at key developmental windows throughout childhood and into adolescence. Practitioners at The Link working with emotional regulation strongly believe this is potentially disrupting healthy child development and parent/child attachments. 


If you are a parent in the Tees Valley area in need of support and want more information around this issue, please contact us on 01642 505580.