Gaming addiction in kids turning lethal

Non-stop online playing is triggering gruesome crimes, the latest being the beheading of a man who took his son’s mobile phone away

Crimes triggered by an addiction to gaming are on the rise. A 21-year-old gaming addict murdered his father on Monday, upset that his mobile phone had been taken away. 

Such was the stranglehold of gaming that the PUBG addict used a sickle to cut off the head of his father, a retired CRPF employee, in Belagavi. It didn’t end there. In custody, he pleaded with the police for a mobile so that he could continue playing the online game. 

Experts list out a number of reasons why playing violent online games increases aggressive behaviour.

You stop thinking

When you are playing a violent game, you constantly feel you are under attack. You are always in the ‘flight or fight’ mode and stop thinking clearly. Not thinking for a long time causes your brain to go into paralysis, leading you to react instead of thinking and responding to situations.

Violence seems the first option

We learn everything by imitation. Like when you go to a foreign place, you just follow the crowd and do what everyone else is doing. If you are living in a virtual violent space, you learn violence and fall back on it in real life.

Social alienation

You become paranoid and always feel someone is going to attack you. 

No empathy

Empathy is learnt by connection. If you are always in front of a device, you can’t learn it. And if you are always being rewarded for killing people, how will you learn kindness?

No aversion to bloodshed

You think bloodshed is fine. In real life, even if you see a little bit of blood, it shocks and depresses you. When doctors make a cut for the first time, even if it is for a good cause, they feel horrible. And here gamers are being trained to constantly feel good about killing strangers. 

False sense of control

You feel you have control over everything. So in the real world, when you realise you have little control, it can cause depression and make you react violently. 

Lack of exercise

When you are sitting inside a room all the time and not getting any exercise, it is bound to have an adverse effect on your mind and body. Exercise releases hormones that make you happier.

All these are the reasons cited by Dr Debmita Dutta, parenting consultant and founder of What Parents Ask (whatparentsask.com), who feels online gaming impacts children’s behaviour in a big way.

Games not always to blame...

When the American Psychiatric Association said in 2015 violent video games lead to aggressive moods and lack of empathy and sensitivity, a group of 230 scholars from universities across the globe published an open letter calling its stance ‘misleading and alarmist’.

While studies show violent video gameplay is associated with increased physical aggression, it can’t be the sole factor, says Dr Jamuna Kakarla, clinical psychologist, Sakra World Hospital.

“Youngsters are likely to engage in aberrant behaviour if they have lost faith in themselves, if their achievements go unrecognised, or if they have no positive sense of identity. Individual risk factors include early antisocial behaviour, poor cognitive development, hyperactivity and emotional factors, such as mental health challenges.”

Violence in media and entertainment and abuse and neglect also trigger violent tendencies in children, she says.

Wean them with love

Any addiction seems like a reward and these rewards keep pushing the threshold up. If you play one game today and feel happy, tomorrow you will need to play two to be happy, says parenting consultant Dr Debmita Datta. “The only way is to build a connection with the child. Most children go to the virtual world when they can’t find a connection and appreciation in the real world. It is an escape from constant reprimands and comparisons. You can pull them in your direction only with love. Aggression and force don’t work with teenagers at all,” she says.

What is PUBG?

PUBG or PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds is an online multiplayer battle royale game. In the game, up to one hundred players parachute onto an island and scavenge for weapons and equipment to kill others while avoiding getting killed themselves.

Most addictive games

While PUBG is the most popular and addictive game in India, these are the global obsessions, according to addictioncenter.com

  • Fortnite
  • League of Legends
  • World of Warcraft
  • Call of Duty
  • Candy Crush

Video game crimes

Raghuveer Kumbar, 21, beheaded his father in Kakati, on the outskirts of Belagavi, for not allowing him to play PUBG. Even after his arrest, Raghuveer pleaded with the police for a mobile phone to play the game in custody.

A Class 4 student in Lucknow created a Paytm account in his father’s name and withdrew Rs 35,000 in one year to play online games. He was caught out when his father went to the cyber crime cell over the unauthorised transactions.

A 19-year-old boy in Delhi was arrested for stabbing to death three members of his family for scolding him for poor academic performance. He was addicted to online games.

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