RESOURCES STRENGTHENING TRAINING FOR ADOLESCENTS WITH PROBLEMATIC GAMING
2022 and 2023 offerings
RES@T-A is a program for teenagers who play video games at problematic levels – that is, their gaming interferes with at least one important area of their life such as schoolwork, relationships, mental health or physical health. The program was initially developed by German Psychiatrist Dr Kerstin Paschke and her team at the German Center for Addiction Research in Childhood and Adolescence at the Hamburg University Medical Centre. Over the past two years, the program has been through multiple revisions involving both the German team and an Australian team led by Ass. Prof. Wayne Warburton at Macquarie University in Australia. The RES@T-A program being currently offered is the Australian version of what we believe will be close to the final version of the program. The German equivalent has already been successfully trialled in Hamburg, and the results there suggest the program can be helpful for teenagers with problematic gaming, and their families.
The Australian RES@T-A program has already benefitted a number of teenagers who had struggled with problematic gaming. The program is designed to be fun, engaging and supportive, and involves games, quests, quizzes and a range of other activities that are designed to facilitate learning and change gaming behaviour.
RES@T-A is NOT designed to ban teens from gaming and doesn’t tell participants what to do. Rather it takes the approach of building on participant’s strengths, providing important knowledge, training important skills, and building resilience, to help participants better manage screens and life.
“It was heaps fun!”
“It doesn’t only help with addiction.”
“You can learn some useful information and it can help you times you are unsure.”
“Come along because you’re not alone.”
“I liked the mindfulness activities, they were fun.”
“People are welcoming.”
Who can participate?
This is a program for high school students struggling with problematic or disordered video gaming.
First, we expect participants (the teenager and at least one parent or guardian) to commit fully to the program, and to attend all 13-16 sessions. A huge amount of work, most of it by volunteers, has gone into making this program possible. We can only take small numbers and so it is crucial that all participants fully participate.
Second, there are some inclusion criteria:
- Participants must be high school students;
- For ethical reasons, participants cannot have one of the following conditions:
- Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, or another illness with symptoms of psychosis;
- Another addiction including problem gambling;
- Any other issue that staff believe would cause the person to be at risk from, or not to benefit from, the program;
- Teenagers meeting criteria for Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) will be assessed on a case-by-case basis to ensure suitability.
Because the location is the Mind and Me psychology clinic at Wyong, being located on the central coast would likely be more convenient for most participants. However, we are happy to take participants from any locality provided they are able to commit to attending all the sessions.
It is likely that the number of people who want to do the program will exceed the number of places. Thus, prospective participants who are eligible and willing to fully commit should apply earlier than later if they wish to gain a place.
What are the likely benefits?
1. Participants in the RES@T-A program have reported benefitting from it, and we think it is likely that future teenagers participating in the Australian RES@T-A program will also find it beneficial. Although some participants in the past have done incredibly well, RES@T-A isn’t a miracle cure, and some participants make more gains than others. RES@T-A can, however, provide a strong start to a teenager’s journey to take control of their gaming, and can help strengthen a range of skills beneficial to life, not just screen use;
2. There are likely to also be benefits for the families participating;
3. Most treatment programs for problematic screen use and screen disorders are very costly; this program comes at no cost.
4. Each teenager and each parent are given a $20 gift card at the end of each testing session. Those who are tested 3 times will receive $120 in gift cards across testing, and those tested 5 times will receive $200 in gift cards across testing.
Who will be running the program?
The program is being overseen by Associate Professor Wayne Warburton from Macquarie University and by clinical psychologists Ms Bree Tebbutt and Ms Adriana Glusman. The program has a substantial team of volunteers – academics, psychologists, psychiatrists, psychology interns and psychology students.
Ms Emily Kopp is coordinating the support team and the administration of the program. Mr Mic Moshel, a Masters of Neuroscience/PhD candidate who specialises in cognitive tests for screen disorders will conduct the cognitive testing. Face to face sessions and other testing will be conducted by a range of team members, with individual feedback provided by the Program facilitators.
What is the commitment?
Because this program is very resource intensive and comes at no cost to participants, we expect all participating teens and their parent or guardian to commit, to the best of their ability, to attending EVERY session they are allocated to. The same parent or guardian needs to attend every testing session and answer the questionnaires, but this person does not have to be the one who drops off and picks up the child from the group sessions.
For those randomly allocated to the second offering this commitment will be to attend 13 sessions. For those randomly allocated to offering 3, the commitment is to attend 15 sessions – 2 testing sessions likely in April and June 2023, and 13 sessions at the time the offering is scheduled (see ‘Timetable’ page for more information). For all groups, 9 of the sessions are group sessions attended by the teenager, unaccompanied by their parent. We do understand that sometimes participants may need to withdraw from the program (this is discussed in the Participant Information and Consent Form that program participants sign).
- There are 3 individual sessions with the teenager and a parent or parents;
- There are 8 group sessions for the teenager, with a 9th group ‘booster’ session about a month later;
- Various measures will be taken at the first and third individual session, and then about 3 months later, to assess each teenager’s situation and the impacts gaming is having on their life and their functioning. The data collected will be used to understand whether the program has been helpful for them across a range of domains, and will also be used for research purposes such as evaluating the efficacy of the program.
What is the cost? (and can I get a cuppa?)
The program will be free for participants.
Refreshments will be provided at all sessions.
What is in the program?
How do I apply?
Where Is The Program?
All sessions will be held at the Mind and Me psychology clinic at 33 Margaret St, Wyong, NSW, 2259.