Concerned about your child?
Are you concerned about your child?
It could be your child because you are worried about one of these common concerns;
- addiction to computer games or the internet
- not knowing what your child is doing or who he or she is talking to on the internet
- your child going missing occasionally without explaining what they are doing
- your child having money, phone credit or new items like trainers that you didn't give them
- your child having mood swings, being withdrawn or becoming even more secretive than usual
All of these concerns are natural to some degree but all can be common signs of something more worrying; for example items 3 and 4 above are recognised symptoms of gang grooming; luring young people into crime by offering gifts for incriminating small 'favours.'
There are some apps and social sites which are little more than dating sites for young people with limited ability to check who is on the other end of a conversation.
In respect of item 1 above, the World Health Organisation now recognises 'gaming 'addiction' as a medical disorder which it defines as "a pattern of persistent or recurring gaming behaviour that takes precedence over other life interests or daily actviities." In turn, the NHS now offers treatment for addiction to computer and online games which it classifies as a mental health disorder.
Below are some useful contacts for parents or carers worried about a child
- The organisation 'Family Lives' offers advice about how to understand whether a child has been lured by a 'gang'.
- The same organisation has a service called 'Bullying UK' which gives advice on that topic for teenagers; there is also guidance on teenage anger and other anti social behaviours
- 'Child Line' also offers advice about gangs and provides contacts for children to talk with anonymously.
- For advice about online activity, the NSPCC has a lot of information and an organisation called 'netaware' offers inside information on what some of the most popular apps for young people are really about.