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Online gaming has become more popular over the past few years as things like gaming visuals and technology, internet speed, and access to the internet in remote areas increase. In fact, there may be many positives related to gaming – they can reduce stress, help you develop new friendships, and learn how to multitask. Real-time strategy games may even improve decision-making skills. But with the good comes the bad. The dark side of online gaming shows links to obesity, increasing depression, a decline in relationships, increased aggressive behavior, and sometimes even addiction.
Online gaming addiction can be defined as compulsive or uncontrollable use of video games that end up affecting other aspects of a person’s life. Since it is so easy to find yourself online, this type of addiction is a growing concern, especially for parents as these games often target young children or teenagers.
Digital gaming addition is quite often seen in multiplayer gaming universes, where players can get together online and interact with each other. The level of interactions, competitiveness, and socialization often happens in real-time, which seems like an attractive offer for many introverts, causing them to feel accepted and liked in a community they relate to.
Another factor that causes video game addiction is the fact that these digital games have been created using years of research, and are designed to be addictive. Large developers want more people to play their games to draw a profit. The games are designed in a way that encourages players to keep returning to play for longer as the levels get harder and harder.
Online gaming addiction may also be caused depending on the type of games played. Streaming games, survival games, and role playing games are often considered highly addictive due to their different levels and immersive nature.
So is online gaming a true addiction?
Online gaming addiction has been questioned and researched by many. There is a debate surrounding it that questions if it can be classified as a true behavioral addiction. While some research shows negative side effects, it is still something being researched further. However, the World Health Organization took the step of adding “gaming disorder” to the 2018 version of its medical reference book, International Classification of Diseases.
What are some symptoms of online gaming or console gaming addiction?
Like any other behavioral addiction, video game addiction has a few symptoms which may help diagnose it. According to certain criteria, you should experience the below symptoms for more than a year for it to be considered an addiction.
– Constantly thinking about gaming while you are away from the console
– Feeling upset or disheartened when you can’t play
– Not being able to stop playing or playing for long hours without a break
– Having problems with work, school or your friends
– Using gaming as an outlet when you’re feeling sad, upset, or angry
– Finding it hard to leave the house and instead spending your free time on the console
Gaming addictions also disrupt familial relationships, social life, and lead to a declining performance in several areas. People who are addicted to video games often have emotional difficulties like depression, anxiety, and feel socially isolated.
Lack of physical activity due to more time spent on the console or PC can also lead to obesity, wrist and back pain, weakening eyes due to increased exposure to blue light, and more.
How can you prevent gaming addiction?
While there is no official diagnosis for online gaming or console gaming addiction, if it drastically affects your behaviour, seeing a therapist or counsellor might be the most feasible option. They may often recommend behavioural or cognitive therapy.
However, gaming disorder is most likely linked to young adults, teenagers and children as they spend more time gaming. If they are introverts with low social skills, they fall under a high risk of being addicted.
Parents can take a few important steps when their children are young to prevent such addictions from occurring. However, it is important to note that different methods will work differently depending on the child’s behaviour.
Some steps parents can take to prevent gaming addiction –
Set passwords on gaming devices –
Setting parental controls and passwords on the games will help you control what they are able to watch. Set limits on screen time, allowing the screen to automatically lock when they cross the limits. You can also control the content your children are able to watch.
Play the game or do your research beforehand –
The best way to understand what the game is about is to take some time and play it with your child. You don’t have to be a professional gamer, but you can use the time to even spend quality time enjoying what your child does. By checking out the content and ratings, you can see if it is a game your child should play or not.
And most importantly, talk to your child
Growing up, one thing that you can understand is how hard it can be to communicate with your parents, especially when they don’t treat you as mature adults. Sitting down with your children and explaining the limits, safety settings and reason behind them and why it is important they are set is better than them being surprised if they come across them unexpectedly. Having a proper conversation may encourage them to see your point of view and improve your relationship too.
At the end of the day, it is understandable that all games are designed to have a certain quality that makes them addictive. It is up to the player to make the conscious decision of monitoring his or her time and making sure that they understand the nature of the games they are playing
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