Red alert on gaming: it’s like drug addiction

A doctor says more than half an hour of video gaming a day is bad.

The World Health Organisation has just added video gaming to its list of addictions, indicating that it can be as dangerous as substance abuse.

The problem is acute in Bengaluru. Counsellor Shreya Chatterjee of Mindscape Clinic, Indiranagar, says what starts off as a simple pastime becomes addictive to the point that kids lose touch with their real lives.

Doctors classify video gaming for long hours as an addiction.

Children find the graphics, characters and even violence in the games enticing. “The games are challenging and keep me hooked,” says Musab, 18, a college student. He plays Call of Duty and PubG. Ninth grader Hanan, 15, and prefers to play video games with his friends. “That ups the competition,” he says. Games allow players to explore fantasies unknown in the real world, adds Imaad, 18, a college student.

Games trending among teenagers now are PubG, FIFA, GTA5 and Call of Duty. They typically spend two to five hours a day on gaming.

Psychologists believe children get into gaming because they are not interacting enough with real people. “The first few visible symptoms we see in a person addicted to video games are irritation, agitation, temper, restlessness, dependency, tantrums and refusal to interact with the outer world,” says Shreya. The addiction can develop behavioural as well as eating and sleeping disorders, she warns.

Toddlers with tabs

Toddlers become stubborn and refuse to eat without a gadget in their hands. They also get aggressive if the gadget is taken away from them.

School children and teenagers have trouble focusing on their studies.

They can also get physical ailments, like chronic neck pain, tremors in their hands, fracture in the wrist and fingers, and weak eyesight. It can also cause obesity and unhealthy weight loss.

Dr Divya Kumawat of Kalpari Art and Mind says parents are key to controlling addiction.

“They must spend quality time with their children and engage them in outdoor sports like camping and trekking, she suggests.

Taking away the gadget only makes children more aggressive, and parents should wean them away gradually. If restrictions are imposed mindlessly, children become rebellious, Divya says.

WHO intends to add gaming disorder to its list of International Classification of Diseases: its studies have found that behavioural addiction activates the same brain regions as drug addiction.

Symptoms
*Irritation
*Restlessness
*Temper tantrums
*Eating, sleeping disorders
*Neck pain
*Fractures in wrist, hand
*Weak eyesight

Popular games

(As listed by WHO)

PUBG
FIFA
GTA 5
Call of Duty
Fortnite

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Red alert on gaming: it’s like drug addiction

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