A psychological disorder turning into a disaster

Far from being mere fun, compulsive video gaming is known to turn into a psychological disorder. Experts, parents, teachers, and society in general have been concerned about this menace. The ever increasing sophistication level of the games, keeps increasing the challenge.

According to WebMD, “video game addiction is a clinical impulse control disorder in the same sense as compulsive gambling”.

Having said this, there also is no better way to train someone on human-computer interactions. Studies conducted over years indicate that video games are an exceptional tool for training and education. The famous video game designer Shigeru Miyamoto once said, “Videogames are bad for you? That’s what they said about rock n’ roll.” An increasing number of educators are now making gaming a part of their classrooms. In the last some years, Gaming has evolved in to a full industry, with the leading players growing rapidly in revenues and profits.

Telling fun from addiction

Fun has given way to addiction if a person gets agitated, violent, or depressed when kept away from gaming for several hours. Addicts often withdraw from, or significantly compromise with, daily activities to spend time on gaming instead.  Over a course of time, addicts become reluctant to socializing and develop an aversion to studies or sports. Video game addiction is also known to have spoilt relationships and marriages.

According to various researches, Dopamine - a chemical messenger that carries signals between brain cells - gets elevated during video games, which is also the case for gambling.

Video gaming addiction is more than physical; it gives rise to an illusion in an addict’s mind that the virtual world is a perfect place, for this is how he/she can escape from the real world and real-life challenges. All of a sudden, this virtual life seems far more exciting, and real life - less appealing. 

Other associated addiction symptoms include:
  • Playing for increasing amount of time
  • Finding ways to escape from problems, anxiety, depression, etc.       
  • Lying to friends and family to conceal gaming    
  • Restlessness and moodiness
  • Fatigue, drowsiness, and tendency to fall asleep during school
  • Dry mouth
  • Excessive sweating
  • Itching
  • Fever
  • Headache
Detox: Who can help?

Treatment for video game addiction is similar to detox for other addictions. According to Keith Bakker, director of Smith & Jones Addiction Consultants – “the key is to let gamers know that they are powerless over their addiction, and then teach them real-life excitement as opposed to online excitement."   

Consult your physician and psychiatrist

While parents play an important role in helping youngsters de-addict, counselling sessions with professional psychologists/ therapists can be very helpful. When trying to detox video game addicts, withdrawal symptoms may crop up. No medication must be taken without Doctor’s prescription.

Recovery is not always easy, but is achievable. Video gamers collectively spend 3 billion hours per week in front of their screens.

Is Gaming all that bad?

Various studies conducted are proof enough that video games push you to challenge yourself at every step (or level, in the case of video games). Evidence also suggests that video games help fight depression, lead to increased memory retention, and improved mood in adults with mild cognitive impairment. They’re also proven to be emotionally engaging.

Moderation and emotional balance are therefore the key.

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