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Pune-based psychiatrists highlight growing concerns related to video game addition

Even as such cases are common in children, internet addiction is also likely to increase among adults, but most do not come forward for counselling or treatment due to lack of acceptance that they are addicted to online gaming or social media, say experts.

pune Updated: Jun 21, 2018 16:57 IST
Jui Dharwadkar
Jui Dharwadkar
Hindustan Times, Pune
Pune,video game addiction
World health organisation(WHO) has declared video game addiction as a mental disorder. (HT FILE PHOTO )

With world health organisation’s international classification of diseases describing addiction to digital and video gaming as “a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behaviour” that becomes so extensive that it “takes precedence over other life interests”, city-based psychiatrists and experts have highlighted the growing concerns related to video game addictions and ways to deal with it.

The International Classification of Diseases (ICD), which has been updated over the past 10 years, now covers 55,000 injuries, diseases and causes of death. It forms a basis for the WHO and other experts to see and respond to trends in health.

Sharing her views, Mukta Puntambekar, project director of Muktangan de-addiction centre, said, "In the past two years, the number of teenagers coming for counselling for internet-related addictions have risen significantly, mostly due to increasing awareness about the issue. Parents also bring their children for counselling for problems related to smartphones addiction, be it playing games or continuous use of social media. According to Puntambekar, the addiction to online gaming and social media is largely being seen in the age group of 10 to 21. She emphasised that to address the issue, parents need to spend more quality time with their children, which is more often than not, missing.

Puntambekar said that even as such cases are more common in children, internet addiction is also likely to increase among adults, but most do not come forward for counselling or treatment due to lack of acceptance that they are addicted to online gaming or social media.

When asked about the reasons for the increasing internet-related addiction, Puntambekar said, "It has been observed that parents tend to introduce even toddlers to smartphones as they want their children to sit at one place, especially while feeding them. Hence, since a very young age, children get used to smartphones, which is destructive. Parents need to talk to children more, which is not happening now. Also, children too observe that their parents are continuously on mobile phones and tend to do the same. Hence, use of gadgets and smartphones in front of children must be avoided as much as possible," she added.

Dr Nischol Raval,consultant psychiatrist,Sahyadri hospitals private limited, said, "There has been a steady increase in the occurrence of gaming disorder over the past few years.It is more frequently seen in adolescents and younger adults, between the age group of 15 and 25."

Dr Raval added that the addiction is similar to any other addiction."A person starts getting thrill and enjoyment from the activity andstarts engaging in it for longer durations. Soon, a tolerance develops, so, he/she needs to spend moreand more time on that activity to get the same amount of thrill. This may eventually lead toavoidance of other important activities, like playing with friends, studying, talking with familymembers and in extreme cases, even neglecting food and water, and self care. Thus, it canhave serious effects on the physical and mental health of an individual."

According to Dr Raval, raising awareness about the problem is of utmost importance as it will help in prevention, earlyidentification and treatment.

Watch out for warning signs like:

1. Impaired control over gaming time.

2. Prioritising gaming over other interests and daily activities.

3. Increase in gaming time, in spite of negative consequences (physical, social or emotional problems)

How to help?

Discuss the issue openly with the individual. Make sure it is in a sensitive and non-judgemental manner and explain them the need to seek help. If things do not improve, consult a clinical psychologist orpsychiatrist for further assessment and treatment.

First Published: Jun 21, 2018 16:56 IST