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 by Mel Santangelo

Have you ever thought your child might be spending too much time playing computer games?

Answer these simple questions to assess your child’s potential to computer game  addiction:

  • Does your child constantly talk about computer games?
  • Does your child ask you to play computer games for a short time, but then makes up convincing excuses not to stop playing and manages to play for hours, time after time?
  • Does your child lose hours playing computer games without realizing?
  • Does your child avoid other activities to play computer games?
  • Does your child have a problem and plays computer games to feel better?
  • Does your child get angry if asked to stop playing computer games?
  • Does your child deny excessive computer game playing?
  • Does your child ask you to spend a lot of money on computer games?
  • Does your child feel bad about spending a lot of time on computer games?

If your child shows these signs and symptoms over a period of time they could be developing, or already  have an addiction to computer games.

But, don’t panic, help is available.



By Mel Santangelo

Dr Mark Stokes Psychologist Deakin University and former President of Kidsafe Victoria states that helmets provide some form of protection from an impact to the head but questions their total effectiveness in preventing concussions.

“In principle a helmet will reduce the strength of an impact to the head. But will it reduce concussion and is it effective?” Dr Stokes said.

He said it is very difficult to measure a concussion and it was implied a child could get a concussion whether wearing a helmet or not. He said the point is with concussion in sports, they need to be determined by medically trained professionals.

“Concussion is something very difficult to measure and it needs to be assessed carefully by a medically trained professional, not just simply assessed by someone on the field who are not necessarily a medically trained individual,” Dr Stokes said.

Dr Mark Stokes Associate Professor School of Psychology Deakin University. He thinks the rules and the way contact sports are played should be changed to prevent concussions in the first place whether players wear helmets or not.

He feels changing the rules of contact sports would be a very effective solution to preventing head injuries in the first place.

“Change the rules, change the way the game is played, so that players don’t get head injuries in the first place, whether they are wearing a helmet or not,” Dr Stokes said.

The change to the rules of contact sports Dr Stokes is suggesting is to ban all players from contact above the shoulders.

He suggests players that do contact other players above the shoulders should be removed from the field of play.

“…If we took players off the field of play who caused a contact above the shoulders, all players would stop contacting above the shoulder very quickly,” Dr Stokes said.

He feels that if children or adults are concussed during contact sports and are taken off the field it may provide incentive for the opposing team to target particular players.

“Well if you remove them from the field of play you’ve given incentive to the other team to actually concuss somebody…prevent the entire problem…by a simple technique, you ban contact above the shoulders,” Dr Stokes said.

“It is far better to prevent a head injury than to try and put a helmet on to try and ameliorate the injury,” he said.

At local junior football clubs, in Victoria for the most part it has been left to parents to decide, with the help of recommendations from doctors, as to whether or not children should wear helmets.

“[At the moment] the club I’m at there is no policy…it’s a choice thing. So, if someone wants to wear a helmet they can. If they don’t want to that’s a free choice as well,” Mr Kevin Oakey Junior Football Coach said.

Schools in Victoria that teach football and facilitate the playing of  football to juniors have been left to decide whether or not to allow contact during football games.

At schools, it is up to parents, with the help of recommendations from doctors, to decide if children should wear helmets during junior football games.

“At my school we don’t allow contact during football and we closely monitor that during sport and in the school yard. At a school level it is up to parents as to whether or not children wear helmets during sport, but we don’t have contact sport at my school. If some parents wanted their children to wear helmets we would provide some and parents may also need to supply some too. School Sports Victoria (SSV) would assist sports teachers if they had an issue with this,” Mr Andrew Farmer Victorian Sports Primary School Teacher said.

Background to story

In Australia and Worldwide there is much speculation and slowly developing research into the impact of head injuries on adults or children playing contact sports, including football.

It was recently reported in the Australian media, that at Boston University a special research centre was set up to uncover the possible affects of head injuries during contact sports. 

Researchers at the university discovered chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in the minds of, no longer living, National Football League (NFL) players.

In neuroscience, Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) is a known brain condition with symptoms including: memory loss, depression, confusion, poor decision making and degeneration of the mind resulting in dementia.  It was further reported in the Australian media, researchers at Boston University believe CTE can be caused by repeated concussive and or sub-concussive blows to the head.

Although Dr Professor Andrew Kaye, director of neurosurgery at the Royal Melbourne Hospital, stated to the media in his opinion the studies were inconclusive.

In Australia, funding is available for further study into the impact of head injuries during football games on adults and children: including prevention and treatment, like the need to use safety gear and helmets.

At this stage there have been no reports of any further studies in Australia or consensus worldwide among researchers about the impacts of head injuries during football games on adults or children and the wearing of helmets.