Mr. B and his wife came along with his son Mr. R, aged 14yrs, a student of 11th std with the chief complaints that their son had been playing video games on the mobile phone and getting adamant, irritated, tensed, sedative, socially isolated, aggressive, sleep deprived, poor concentration in studies, irregularity in school, tendency to sleep during the classes. Recently, he has started to beat his mother for not giving her mobile phone to him for playing video games. The mother is facing this kind of distressed situation for almost a year since her husband gifted her a new smartphone as a birthday present. She tried to control his son but is failing repeatedly to change her son’s behaviour. After testing and interviewing him and his family Mr R was diagnosed to be addicted to video gaming for almost 1 year. He was persistently using mobile to play games which impaired his academic performance.
Video gaming addiction is a behavioural addiction which can be characterised by excessive use of video games that interferes with a person’s daily activities. The typical time devoted to it is 8-10hours or more every day and at least 30 hours per week. There are many others who have been addicted to Video gaming like Mr R as it is completely unnoticed or getting social acceptance gradually.
Mostly video games and other apps like PUBG, the clash of titans, candy crush saga, tic tok, lost temple princes, temple run, Train simulator, pixel jumps, bubble shooter, subway, monster truck and many more which makes users happy and excited to continue to next the stage/level. There are many group games which involve competition between groups of players participating in complex structured activities through the internet that include a significant and considerable amount of social interactions during the play. The video gaming addiction can vary in the intensity from being mild, moderate or severe depending up the degree of the disruption, it creates to other important daily activities and the lives of its users. There few are characteristics which start emerging during the process of getting addicted to video gaming and these are described below:
1. A video gaming addict is always found preoccupied with the thoughts of videos game or the app they prefer to use. They keep on thinking about their previous gaming activity, how they performed on it and in planning the strategies for their future games.
2. Gaming becomes the dominant activity throughout the day and the time spent on gaming consistently increases.
3. They start losing their interest in hobbies, extracurricular activities, sources of entertainment which they previously liked.
4. They tend to use videos games for escaping their loneliness, anxiety, academic pressure, work-related tensions, personal problems or simply from everything bad that happens to them.
5. They start losing their personal relationships, educational or career opportunities just because of their compulsion to play and participation in video games.
6. They become defensive in front of the family members, caretakers or therapist about the increasing usage or even if anyone tries to educate them about the harmful effects of gaming.
7. Withdrawal symptoms like irritability, anxiety or sadness or in severe cases agitation, violence, manhandling, social or emotional isolation start to show up when they are restrained from playing or they are unable to play videos games due to any reason.
How and when people get addicted to video gaming:
Basically, most of the parents give their smart/android phone or other gadgets to their children for homework and entertainment during their leisure time but they forget that children consider it as a toy to play with and parents often fail to recognize that their child is slowing getting addicted to it. It is proven scientifically and supported by many different researches that it releases ‘the feel-good hormones’ which attract them play the video games and also satisfies their need of adventure and thrill which they generally lack especially because of the modern lifestyle. There are many other people who are getting addicted to video gaming are to avoid emotional breakdowns, loneliness, boredom, stress, anxiety, etc. Whereas it is another concern that children, teenagers and even a few adults are also at high risk of getting Online predators, hidden fees, malware, privacy concerns, hacking and cyberbullying while playing.
What Parents can do:
- Firstly, as a parent, you must be the role models for your children. You must minimize using the things which you don’t want your children to overuse especially when they are around.
- If you give gadgets to them, first of all, instruct them about its ideal uses and harmful effects. Tell them what should not be used and why. Set time limits for everything and assist them.
- Kids may ask for mobiles especially when they are left alone, so, Engage them reading books and motivate them to play outdoor games. Most importantly talk to them, spend more time with them and observe changes in their behaviour especially the sudden changes.
- Keep them in the company of their grandparents and other elders more so that they don’t feel lonely and encourage them to make good friends in school and neighbourhood.
- Gadgets can be prohibited during meals and family time.
- Don’t use harsh punishments and bad words when they ask for mobile phones and computer, instead of this, educate them calmly about usage hazards of its overuse and don’t always lecture them.
The points mentioned above are not just for teaching the children but you too should follow them and lead by example. Also, these preventive measures can be followed by adults too as this addiction is rapidly haunting adults too.
The video games can make you ill and addicted to a level of the disorder called ‘Internet gaming disorder’ and the academic performance gradually declines, irritation increases because of it, It consumes a huge amount of time which would otherwise have been productive. Also, there are chances of you getting depression and anxiety in specific which overall can impact your behaviour, personality, health and opportunities.
If you find things getting out of your control and personal efforts are not working out then you should consult a psychologist for the behavioural intervention. Always share your problems with the parents, elders, friends and sought out the things because gaming would not solve them either. Never lose hope in yourself. You are not ill, you just require a helping hand, A supervision. Stay away for excessive and unnecessary gaming, gaming is like food that may be good to eat in moderation; addictive when consumed excessively.