– Internet game or video game is any software that can be played on a computing device, such as personal computer device such as personal computer, gaming console or mobile devices/smart phone through internet. Earlier there used to be no internet and only few games were there on a mobile and internet weren’t used. There were few games in mobile phone. But as the mobile phones developed games and other entertainment sources also started to grow.
Video Games came into existence since 1970s. Since then the craze of the games started. Then slowly the sources to play games and the games itself started to develop rapidly. Along with the developing games the no. of game players also started to grow. Video game started from gaming console and it slowly advances as internet game on smart phones, laptop, etc. The addiction of internet game is increasing due to fast growing device and social networking also due to increasing interest of youth in the game. It is most popular in adolescents and has become favorite all over the world.
In 2018, the World Health Organization (WHO) has classified gaming disorder as a mental health illness and listed it in International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11). The ICD-11 is a list of diseases and medical conditions used worldwide. WHO defined Gaming disorder as “a pattern of gaming behavior (digital-gaming or video-gaming) characterized by impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming over other activities to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities, and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.” Internet game designers have developed the game just challenging enough to keep the game interested, but not so challenging that the gamer become aggravated and give up. Also, they create a controlled environment for gamers by measuring game progress, which enforces the gamers to spend hours and hours playing games. Due to the high amount of precious time they spend on playing, they could allow less effort in academic, employment or social functioning.
They suffer from a severe symptom of withdrawal, if controlled from gaming, and relapse is a common phenomenon. Studies have shown that more than one third of populations of world are engaged in gaming and prevalence of Internet gaming disorder ranged from 0.7% to 27.5% in 2017. The studies conducted in Nepal, were concentrated on internet addiction, social media (e.g. face book) addiction and screen media use. There is little known about internet gaming behavior in Nepal. Few evidences on internet addiction showed some severe internet addiction and about one third of the internet addicts uses internet for playing online games.
IMPACTS OF GAMING ADDICTION: We all know addiction or continuous playing of games is very harmful for us. Addiction towards game is more harmful than being useful. It also has merits as we can earn money by uploading our game play in YouTube or Facebook and getting more views in their videos. Gaming industry has been an emerging area of business in global markets mostly in China and India. But only few people can enjoy this merit whereas the entire addicted player has to suffer through its harmful impacts. Some of its impacts which we suffer are as follows: Health Impacts First of all, as we know, it leads to vision problems. The ray that comes from screen is not much harmful if we use mobile or other devices like laptop, computer etc. only for short term.
But addicted players continuously expose their eyes to the rays that come from mobiles, computer, laptop etc. So this affects their eyes causing vision problem. Also it affects our muscles and bones as the player continuously stay in same position for longer time. It causes pain in muscles and bones causing musculoskeletal problems. The person who is addicted in internet game they are mostly fat or overweight. As the addicted person rarely go to play outdoor game or do not want to go outside to play or exercise. This results in lack of exercise in their body causing obesity and overweight.
Due to this in future they may suffer from diabetes, heart problem, etc. It mostly affects the mental health of a person. The addicted gamers have been found with the symptoms of anxiety, depression, stress, sleeping problems, loss of appetite, behavioral problem and other psycho-social problems. Gaming addiction not only causes above mentioned problems but also affects our brain by killing our brain cells. It also causes numbness in hand and blood clot.
Financial Impact : The addicted person purchase various latest and updated gadgets which are very expensive and cannot be easily purchased by middle or lower class families. This may cause financial crisis for those families. To play online games internet is also required which may also be costly in context of Nepal. Also devices like computer, laptop, mobile phone/ smar
The absence of those devices one may start to go cyber or other gaming stations regularly by paying certain amount. These amounts are low to play for a day but it may also cause economic imbalance as it becomes a huge amount after a month. As these players play continuously and for longer period of time the sum becomes a huge amount after a month or some weeks. Academic Impact Internet game addicts continuously spend their time in internet game spending their valuable time in game. They spend most of their time in gaming afterwards they may have slight headache and may have difficulty to see or they may not want to study.
They want to spend more and more time on gaming. In free time too they may only think of their game and also while studying they may start to think about their game only. This affects their study and it may result in decreasing grade of that person. They may lose their interest in studying. They will not give their time for study and will prefer gaming rather than studying. Social and behavioral problems Studies found that Internet addiction, smart phone addiction, and online game addiction were all associated with an individual’s social anxiety. Individuals with a serious tendency for online gaming addiction have significantly higher social anxiety levels than those who use online games normally. Social anxiety, which is the most common anxiety disorder in adolescence, is the state of tension or discomfort experienced by individuals in social situations.
Those who are addicted in internet gaming they prefer to stay alone and do not want to visit crowded places. They do not talk to their parents or other relatives much and only focus on gaming, staying inside their home. They also do not go to play and they lack skills to make friends except for making friends in their game. Compared to others, gaming addicts have significant social and behavioral issues. It also affects the imaginative and social behavior of children.
PREVENTION’S : To prevent gamers from being addicted to gaming or to keep the amount of time spent gaming under control, these measures could be useful: Awareness on gaming addiction: If a person knows about online game addiction, its symptoms and its impact he/she may apply the preventive measures while he/she plays online games. They will become careful and may not become an addict in future. So, awareness sessions should be provided from school levels. Awareness programs should also be provided through mass media. Parental Monitoring and control:
The amount of time devoted to an online platform use must be limited by parents exclusively. Moreover, parents should provide their children with occupation alternatives like chances to communicate with their friends or new interests like cooking, music, reading poetry, driving, etc. Parents should also take care of the content of games chosen by their children. In fact, they would rather discourage them from occupying themselves with military activities games. The specific types of online games are reportedly highly addictive due to the fusion between real and virtual.
Discouraging children from such games can prevent future addiction. Developing self-control while gaming: Young users should also be urged to relax their eyes after every 20 minutes of computer or mobile use. This measure may also discourage them from constant focus on their computer that may alienate them from the real world. Young people should also be urged to occupy themselves with activities they are naturally inclined to be good at, as a measure against online gaming addiction. Set time limits for play and stick to them: Controlled and limited internet use constitutes in fact methods of prevention. Also after every 20 minutes one should take rest.
One should not play or use mobile or other devices (laptop, computer) for more than 2 hours a day. So, they should set time limit to play games for 2 hrs per day. Prepare a Time-table: To prevent the problem of addiction on should prepare a time table. It will limit the game playing time of a person and also leave time for other activities like study, exercise, outdoor games, etc.
This will lower the health risks of sitting and playing for long stretches of time. Also, keeping phones and other gadgets out of the bedroom could reduce playing at night. Help-seeking with psycho social counselor: Psycho social counselor could help on reducing gaming duration using appropriate behavioral therapies, in order to prevent from gaming addiction. So, parents can take their children to consult counselor. Legislative measures: Through adopting appropriate policy measure, the government should regulate internet games and banning addictive games. However, before banning there should be enough evidences against such games, that they have potential health and other risks on gamer.
CONCLUSION: Some voices are being heard by parents regarding higher involvement of their children in internet gaming. They are anxious about probable consequences of addiction, particularly on health and academic performance of their children. As being guardian, they need o play major role in preventing the heavy gaming activities of their children. The above mentioned preventive measures may be helpful in reducing gaming addiction among children and adolescents.
-Adheesh Bista SEE graduate
Siddhartha Vanasthali Institute Kathmandu