Covid-19

How Video Games Are Connecting Chronically Ill Children Both At Home And At The Hospital

These are worrying times we live in, especially for children. Thankfully, they have video games to keep them happy and connected.

How Video Games Are Connecting Chronically Ill Children Amid COVID-19 Pandemic

Video games have always been a pastime for the majority of Americans, especially when it comes to male children and teenagers. However, the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic shifted all of this for better or for worse, resulting in a gaming boom since people and children are encouraged to stay inside their homes.

And now, the same video games are being used by chronically ill children to stay connected to their peers and friends.

“When we shifted to staying home all the time, we saw the value in him [her son] being able to stay connected with friends,” Dara Riva, who has a 10-year-old son suffering from cystic fibrosis, making him particularly susceptible to COVID-19, said.

But that same level of connectivity doesn’t stop at homes because more and more hospitals are incorporating video games to help their younger patients.

“We’re hearing from hospital partners that video games are in higher demand than ever. With the limitation of visitors and restrictions on patient activity, in many places, all patients are being isolated in their rooms,” Zach Wigal, the founder of Gamers Outreach, which is a nonprofit that provides video games to children’s hospitals, said.

Per nurses and hospital staff, the guidelines put in place to help slow down the spread of the coronavirus have greatly limited the entertainment options that are usually available to children, such as pet therapy, arts and crafts, poetry and music. As such, video games are helping fill in this gap, helping them manage pain, boredom, anxiety, sadness and even cognitive impairment.

“Because they’re immersive, video games are very helpful for taking the mind off of pain and probably can decrease the need for pain medication,” Lewis Hsu, MD, PhD, a pediatric hematologist and director at the Sickle Cell Center at the University of Illinois Hospital and Health Sciences System, said. “That decreases social isolation, gives you a peer group of people who really understand what it’s like to be a kid in the hospital.”

Video game Video games combine all forms of media, from music, to visual arts, and of course, programming. Anton Porsche/Pixabay

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