Pioneering Hartlepool business set up to help prevent gaming addiction in children

A new business in the town wants to help children game safely.

Friday, 4th June 2021, 1:20 pm

Jax Story, in the town’s Hartlepower Hub, has set out to raise awareness among children, parents and teaching staff about the dangers of gaming and provide help to youngsters suffering from gaming addiction.

It launched in February last year after receiving funding from The National Lottery, but had to pause because of Covid-19 restrictions.

The business is now taking off in full force though, with its first session at Stranton Primary School receiving ‘brilliant’ feedback.

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Charlotte Bell and David Bradley want to help youngsters game safely.

The project is run by former Hartlepool teacher David Bradley, 57, and occupational therapist Charlotte Bell, 40.

The pair used to work with kids in the Tees Valley who had dropped out of school.

After seeing how often gaming was the reason behind some children missing out on education, David and Charlotte decided to do more to help.

David said: "We just thought it made more sense that if we go into schools to stop more children being like those children.

"We are not anti-gaming, we are quite pro-gaming because it’s amazing. It’s all about the dangers of the unsafe side of it.

"We worry also about the health side of it with the kids’ personal hygiene and eye sight and all things related to it, kids going in mood shifts, withdrawal symptoms, being restless, anxious.”

David, who is from Billingham, but used to teach PE in Hartlepool’s Stranton School, has added that Covid has also had an impact with lockdowns resulting in children gaming more.

The dad-of-two said: "It’s getting really, really bad now and obviously, because of Covid and everyone being in lockdown.

"Covid has had a massive effect. We think that the kids have been gaming longer than possibly should have done.”

David added that he and Charlotte, who is a mum of three, are both very passionate about children’s mental health.

David said: "We’re both parents and we’re both very passionate about what’s going on out there with children’s mental health as well.

"The knock off effect from gaming will lead to gambling as well.

"One thing leads to another in the world of gaming I’m afraid.“

There are hopes the programme will eventually branch out beyond the region and help even more children nationwide.

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