Best of the Web: A new approach to help teen problem gaming, and more

A new program to retrain the brains of teenagers who are problem gamers, how Dolly Parton is fostering a love of reading in Australian kids, and ways to avoid after-school silence.

Our selection of thought-provoking and useful resources from around the web on educating and raising children, and supporting families.

Game over

(Janine Cohen and Matt Henry, Australian Story)

This is a powerful report into what can happen to teenagers when video gaming becomes an obsession.

Jude was at her wits end trying to help her teenage son Rhys. At the height of pandemic lockdowns, he was gaming for up to nine hours a day. Sometimes, if he wasn’t allowed to game, he would smash phones and laptops

‘It’s living on the edge, never quite knowing what’s going to happen,’ says Jude.

Help came in the form of Macquarie University psychologist associate professor Dr Wayne Warburton, who is developing a program based on the idea that excessive gaming rewires the brain.

As the report explains, the program gives teenagers back control by strengthening their resources, skills and knowledge about hazardous gaming.

‘We want them to be in control of the games, not the games in control of them,’ Dr Warburton says.

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How Dolly Parton is fostering a love of reading in children across Australia

(Caroline Riches, SBS News)

The remarkable talents of country singer Dolly Parton have made her an international icon. But beyond her performances, she also uses her celebrity to help make a practical difference to people’s lives, with a long list of philanthropic projects.

This report details the work of her Imagination Library, which gives books to more than two million children up to the age of five around the world – including Australia.

It’s run with local partners, and has been operating in Australia since 2014. The report says the program has a particular impact in remote communities.

Among the beneficiaries are the three young children living on a remote cattle station 100 kms out of Katherine in the Northern Territory.

‘They’re desperate for us to read the book to them,’ says mum Rebecca Mohr-Bell. ‘It shows that we think the books are important. It teaches them about looking after books and that reading is a valuable skill to have. They love it.’

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How do you ask kids about their day at school, and get an answer?

(Emma Wynne, ABC Everyday)

Looking for a short conversation with your child? Maybe a one-word answer? Try, then, the failsafe, ‘How was school today?’

As this article points out, it’s the worst question to ask if you actually want an answer. ‘We’re so excited as parents, and we just can’t wait to get the info, but for most kids asking is the quickest way to have them shut down completely,’ says parenting coach Gen Muir.

Kids are trying to regroup. So instead of throwing questions at them, throw some food their way, following the advice of parenting guru Maggie Dent. They may have forgotten to eat at school, and might be ‘hangry’.

The article also canvasses other less confronting ways to get the conversation flowing, such as, ‘What’s the best thing that happened to you today?’

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