Experts warn of the dangers of online gaming addiction
Internet gaming disorder, or online gaming addiction, has emerged as a new behavioral addiction that engages the younger generation despite negative consequences on physical, mental, social or financial well-being, said Rajesh Kumar, Professor (HoD ) Psychiatry, Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences.
Speaking to IANS, Kumar said such behavioral addiction involves the coercion to engage in non-substance-related behavior despite the negative consequences to the person’s physical, mental, social or financial well-being.
“There is almost no difference between gambling addiction and alcohol addiction. It kicks in similarly and later develops into severe addiction. Internet gaming disorder has been included in the 5th Edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM5),” he said.
According to a study published in the Indian Journal of Community Medicine and Public Health 2020, about 3.5% of Indian teenagers suffer from Internet Gaming Disorder (IGD). The rate is 0.5% higher than the world average.
Indian studies show that 8% of boys and 3% of girls suffer from IGD. Experts blame prolonged screen time for this disorder.
“Almost 41% of India’s population is under 20 years old, which means that online gambling has a huge market. The main target of this addiction is the child between 5 and 18 years old. developed at this stage, they easily fall prey to this gambling addiction,” Kumar said.
At this stage of the immature brain, they want immediate pleasure that turns into addiction.
However, these are productive years that go in vain with Internet gaming, causing long-term damage to this generation that results in family conflicts, criminal tendencies and others at a later stage in life, a he declared.
Kumar blames the Covid-19 pandemic for the increase in this disorder to some extent, saying health criticism has changed people’s way of life.
Everything is now available online, which has brought everyone to mobile, resulting in excessive screen time and device addiction.
“At the brain level, addiction is similar to the chemical mechanism,” said Nimesh G. Desai, former director of the Institute of Human Behavior and Related Sciences (IHBAS).
However, he added that not all users are addicted.
Calling it a double-edged sword, he said advances in technology are both helpful and harmful, if we use them carefully.
“According to a WHO report, online gaming addiction equates to substances like cocaine, drugs and gambling. It is a kind of temporary psychotic stage in which the gamer forgets his conscience and follows just the instructions,” said Shamsi Akbar, former research officer, Department of Geriatric Mental Health, King George’s Medical University.
She added that players are trapped in a situation called Passivity Phenomena where they are controlled by an external force and when someone stops them from playing, they become aggressive.