Does your teenage or adolescent child forget chores or refuse engage in social interactions because of video game addiction? If so, there is a possibility that your child might be suffering from Internet Gaming Disorder. Although this sounds superficial, WHO has labelled it as a real mental health condition. What’s worse is that this disorder can affect people of any age group.
Is gaming disorder a real thing? How can someone have disorder because of playing video games? Does it sound like a hoax to you?
How Video Games Become Addictive
Picture this, Noah is a 15-year-old boy with an athletic personality. He loves playing tennis and wants to be friends with other tennis players, but soon finds out that they are all obsessed with online games. One day while sitting in his room, he downloads the game and sends a request to his friends. Everyone welcomes him enthusiastically and they start playing, sometimes for hours on end. He realizes he really enjoys gaming and he is good at it, too. Slowly, Noah loses track of time and played video games 13 hours a day. He starts missing his practice sessions in school. Even eating food becomes a hassle as it takes too much time.
When his parents try to stop him from playing video games, he becomes aggressive & vindictive. He remains confined to a room. Gradually, Noah became underweight, develops symptoms of insomnia, and occasionally feels nauseous. However, this does not stop from playing games. Think about this: does this behavior sound like someone with substance addiction? If you think the answer is yes, then you are absolutely right. This is because addiction to internet games is now classified as an addiction according to the World Health Organization.
What is Internet Gaming Disorder?
Internet Gaming Disorder is a type of behavior disorder which shows symptoms such as,
- Massive focus on gaming
- Not being able to quit playing games, or unsuccessful attempts to quit
- Deceiving family members or others for gaming
- Risk of losing a job or relationship because to gaming
- Using gaming to relieve emotions like helplessness or guilt.
Internet gaming disorder (IGD) is included in section III of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Fifth Edition (DSM-5), and its the excessive gaming which causes loss of sense of time, arousal of negative emotions such as anger and anxiety when gaming is not accessible, and continuous internet use even after the negative repercussions such as bad health, social isolation or fatigue.
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Internet Gaming Disorder Symptoms
A person with gaming disorder might have the following signs and symptoms:
- Sleep related problems such as insomnia
- Decreased offline social support
- Decreased quality of life
- Disturbance in academic performance and social life
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Science of Video Game Addiction
When video gaming becomes an addiction, gaming changes the firing of neurons that feel pleasure and, in turn, the brain activates the reward center while playing games. The gaming pattern alters the chemicals present in the brain (called neurotransmitter) in such a way that the sole act of playing games activates pleasurable neurotransmitters, and other activities which used to activate the reward center do not result in pleasure.
Why Kids Become Addicted to Games
Adolescence is the age of new experiences and exploration. Teens tend to behave in a variety of ways in order to gain acceptance in society and be part of peer groups. They may develop addictive behavior to relieve stress and boost their self-esteem. Online games (like PubG or Call of Duty) which include communication in peer groups can become a symbol of unity and give a sense of belonging to adolescents. However, gaming can become a cause of worry for parents. If you are a parent, what you need to do is not to shut them down without giving them a heads up on the repercussions of internet gaming. Educate your children on how much to use their tablets, and most importantly, explain why it is important to control the amount of time spent playing video games.
How to Prevent Online Gaming Addiction
Here are some gaming disorder prevention techniques:
1. Read the Warning Signs
Every game has some warning signs written in the description on the packaging or cover. Read the potential hazards, obstacles, or conditions requiring special attention for the purpose of gaming.
2. Self-Regulation of Gaming Habits
If there is a call from your boss or teacher and you are in the middle of intense fighting battle while playing an online game, will you leave in the middle of the game? If your answer is yes, you are good to go, and probably are not addicted to gaming. If your answer is no, then this is a cause for worry. Know how much you can handle the period of gaming without letting it affect other aspects of your life, be it social life or personal life. It’s not bad to play games, but moderation is crucial.
3. Research Internet Gaming Addiction
If you feel there are some overlapping characteristics of Internet gaming disorder with your pattern of living, then you should make every effort to know everything about video game addiction. Make use of search engines such as Google, have intensive research about gaming disorder, and you will find that you’re not alone in dealing with gaming addiction.
How to Treat Internet Gaming Disorder
Handling an addict carefully could help you get them on a healthier path. However, if you feel that your addiction is at its peak and hampering daily life, then talking to a behavioral therapist is probably the best option. Addiction of any kind should not be taken lightly, and a little help can go a long way in steering the life of your loved ones in the right direction.