Internet Gaming Addiction: New Cigar to Youth । Mahid Sa’ad
In 21st century, it’s almost difficult to subsist without internet. It has made human being’s life more dynamic ever than before. An estimated 4.2 billion people around the world have internet access, more than half of the global population. But sometimes people’s activity in internet resulted in the thriving and breakneck global issue of internet addiction. Gaming, specially played in the internet, is one of the most popular pastimes amongst young generation. But when their attitude towards internet gaming turns into unusual behavior then its termed as internet gaming addiction, also known as Internet Gaming Disorder (IGD).
Here in my article, I recount the background, risk factors and consequences of internet gaming addiction of today’s youth.
Background of video game industry
Online gaming has a detailed background. The evolution of gaming is very much linked with the advancement of computer and its history follows the similar pathway to that of the internet. NIMROD, the first computer game, was created in 1951. Shortly after in 1952 second computer game — OXO – was created. In 1962, Steve Russell invented “Space War’’ which was the first game intended for computer use. The history of online games dates back to the early days of packet-based computer networking in the 1970s. After the creation of internet on January 1, 1983, online video gaming became a popular form of entertainment in many parts of the world. As both the computer and internet were improving, the popularity of internet gaming was getting ready to bust. Mobile gaming becomes the next evolution of online gaming when smartphone begins to become popularized. Online gaming is now at its peak.
Most gaming addiction is associated with internet gaming. Apart from this, videogames include computer games, console games, arcade games and even in cell phone, PDA and advanced calculator games etc. Gaming addiction is compulsive, excessive and uncontrolled use of videogame that starts to affect individual’s life causing impairment or distress. It is also classified as a compulsive behavior similar to gambling addiction. Rather than engaging in the real world, an addicted user passes the majority of his or her time to gaming. The addicted gamer often isolates him/herself from others, ignores more important responsibilities and is often is often obsessed with obtaining higher performance, rankings or achievements in his/her favorite computer game.
Types of online videogames
There are two type of videogames and therefore there are two major types of videogame addictions. Standard videogames are generally designed to be played by a single player and involve a clear goal or mission. The other type of videogame addiction is associated with online multiplayer games. These games are played online with other people and are especially addictive because they generally have no ending. Gamers with this type of addiction enjoy creating and temporarily becoming an online character. They often build relationships with other online players as an escape from reality.
Dr Vasileios Stavropoulos, a senior lecturer in clinical psychology and coordinator of the Gaming Research Group at Federation University Australia, says six criteria must be met in order for excessive internet gaming to be classed as an addiction.
That criteria includes a frequent obsession with internet gaming, progressively higher doses of gaming to achieve the same outcome, using gaming to modify mood or feelings, conflict with others due to dysfunction in the gamer’s other roles, failing in attempts to curb or stop gaming, and withdrawal symptoms when not gaming online. “Anyone who presents with all six of these characteristics gets a diagnosis but if some do not present with all six and present with some of them, we tend to think that they are at high risk of Internet Gaming Disorder,” he says.
Videogames target the natural interests of children and young generation. There is no single causative factor that makes videogames so appealing to them. Something about a game that is fascinating to one may seem rather boring to another. Internet gaming addiction has been an increasing concern for parents worldwide. Many times parents can’t understand whether their child is addicted by internet gaming. Gaming addiction has become a topic of increasing research interest. The last decade has observed a significant increase in the number of empirical studies examining various aspects of problematic video game play and video game addiction. While research is inconclusive, there does appear to be evidence that video games can be harmful can increase aggression and can be addictive. However, these effects are highly individual and may involve many more factors than simply the amount of time spent playing games.
Dr Stavropoulos, who has studied the impact of internet addiction and excessive online gaming on adolescents, says studies show male adolescents particularly those aged 16 to 18 are generally at higher risk than female adolescents. But new research has shown that female students who are struggling at school and who experience hostility in the classroom are vulnerable to addiction
How to recognize gaming addiction?
Some of the emotional signs or symptoms of gaming addiction include:
1. Have difficulty leaving the computer for a meal. Food may be taken when playing
2. Feelings of restlessness and/or irritability when unable to play
3. Irritability introverted and depressed mood
4. Feelings of anger and frustration when not allowed access to the video game
5. Preoccupation with thoughts of previous online activity or anticipation of the next online session
6. Experiencing calmness, peacefulness or euphoria while playing
7. Isolation from others in order to spend more time in gaming
8. Continuing to play despite serious real world consequences.
9. Neglect or loss of interest in other outdoor activities.
Physical symptoms of videogame addicted users
1. Fatigue, restlessness, migraines due to continuous concentration or eye strain
2. Increased risk of light-induced seizures, musculoskeletal disorders of the upper extremities and increased metabolic rate
3. Carpal tunnel syndrome caused by the overuse of a controller or computer mouse
4. Shortage of sleep, negative self-image, depression, aggression
5. Care and personal hygiene can (strongly) decline
Social consequences of internet gaming addiction
1. Increased aggressive thoughts and aggressive behaviors
2. Introvert behavior
3. Stay away from real world
4. Reduced pro-social (cooperative) behaviors in social interactions.
Research with people who are addicted to video games show that they have poorer mental health and cognitive functioning including poorer impulse control and ADHD symptoms compared to people who do not have video game addiction. People who are addicted to video games also have increased emotional difficulties like increased depression and anxiety, report feeling more socially isolated, and are more likely to have problems with internet pornography use. Recently suicide tendency is started due to some games like ‘blue whales’ around the world. Many incidence of suicide has reported worldwide.
What causes an addiction to internet games or risk factors of internet gaming addiction:
Many different factors cause internet gaming addiction. One of the main reasons that gaming can become so addictive and designed to be that way. In order to make a overnight profit, designers make such kind of outline that is challenging enough to keep anyone coming back for more but so hard that the players eventually gives up. Here are the factors that cause gaming addiction.
1. Given the natural appeal of video games to most children and teenagers.
2. Being male is one of the risk factors for video game addiction and computer addiction.
3. Children with lower social competence and higher social anxiety are more likely to become addicted to video games.
4. Personality characteristics such as aggressiveness, a strong need for new or unique experiences, general anxiety level and neuroticism appear to be risk factors for video game addiction.
5. Playing online games, particularly multiplayer online role playing games is one of the risk factors for video game addiction.
6. Authoritarian parenting styles may be one of the risk factors for video game addiction.
7. Impulsivity, weaker social skills, less empathy, and limited ability to regulate emotions.
Apart from these, globalization can be one of the most reasonable factors for young generation engaged in gaming addiction. Due to urbanization, fields and others recreational source are decreasing. Due to lack of playing field and open area, young generation confined themselves in their home and seeking for alternative source of recreation. Thus they engage in internal gaming addiction.
Can internet gaming addiction be treated?
As with gambling addiction, gaming addiction is a clinical impulse control disorder. Online gaming addiction has been associated with other comorbid mood disorders such as depression, stress and anxiety disorders. Management for gaming addiction is similar to that for other addictions. Counseling and behavior modification are the primary means of treating addicted online video gamers. Together, individual and family counseling can be the powerful management tools. Some management facilities incorporate medication in their programs. However, unlike drugs or alcohol, online video games are tied to computers which are a key part of life for most people. In that way, the addiction is similar to a food addiction. As a result, some treatment centers explore controlled use rather than abstinence.
Here are some management options for curing internet gaming addiction.
1. One to one counseling with a Psychologist or Mental Health Professional.
2. Cognitive behavior therapy treatment
3. Family psychotherapy and education
4. Parents counseling
5. Creating open field or playground for outdoor activities.
Recovery is not always easy but it is achievable. Internet gaming addiction can be just as dangerous as any other addiction and should be treated as soon as possible. The first in overcoming dependency is being able to recognize that it exists. And prevention is always better than curing for any disorder.