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Psychiatrists witness rise in cases of video game addiction among youth
Despite suffering from motion sickness while playing first person shooter games, Jerrin Mathew (27), a video game enthusiast, used to spend most of his free time in front his computer screen.
It was when he found a solution to the motion sickness – in the form of some ginger toffees while playing – that his mother realised how addicted he was to video games, said P Nilam, a Counsellor.
With the problem of video gaming addiction growing worse among youngsters day by day, psychiatrists and counsellors say there has been a significant increase in the number of cases they receive every week with this condition. Describing the symptoms of such an addiction, they urged the parents of such children to get them help immediately.
“Earlier, we never thought of video games as a problem. However, we see many youngsters today addicted to them. I used to receive one odd case every month. However, now, I see between five to 10 cases of video game addiction every week,” said the counsellor, adding that they all fall between the ages of 12 and 30. Such addictions fall under the category of behavioural addictions, she stated.
Psychiatrists say that it is a matter of concern that many, especially children, are found to be addicted to their smart phones nowadays.
“This addiction to smart phones forms neurological connections in the brain in ways similar to how opioid addiction is experienced by people taking oxycontin for pain relief. The excessive use of cell phones creates a sense of loneliness and depression among the users when they are kept away from the gadgets,” said Shayanthani S, a researcher who had conducted a study on behavioural addictions seen among youngsters in the state.
Stressing on the need for parents or other caregivers to take the matter seriously, Dr K Kumar, a psychiatrist, said, “The emotional signs one would need to look out for in an addict include feelings of restlessness or irritability when they are unable to play. A person can be considered an addict if he is found lying to friends or family members regarding the amount of time he spent playing and if he prefers to be isolated from others in order to spend more time gaming.”
Besides, he said, some of the physical symptoms include fatigue, migraines and poor personal hygiene. “If such symptoms are noticed, it is better to bring it to the notice of a psychiatrist immediately. Many tend to take it lightly because it is a video game. However, the World Health Organisation (WHO) had recently declared video-gaming as an addiction as well,” he added.
While the different kinds of addictions have been increasing, our healthcare providers have been looking for newer methods of ensuring that these addictions are checked. “Medicines do not play a huge role in behavioural addiction unlike in the case of addiction to various substances. We need to motivate the addicts, make them develop a sense of guilt which help them realise that there is a need to make amends, said a doctor from the Institute of Mental Health.
Matter of concern
- Emotional signs seen in video game addicts:
- Feelings of restlessness or irritability when unable to play
- Lying to friends or family members regarding the amount of time spent playing
- Trying to isolate oneself in order to spend more time gaming
- Poor personal hygiene
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