Online gaming addiction

Online gaming addiction

Mobile gaming has come a long way. We now have full-fledged console-quality games available for android. These games are addictive and very popular.

I am addicted to android games and other mobile games. I am unable to concentrate on studies and I am getting poor marks. I am always either on my mobile or computer and play games like ‘candy crush’ or ‘temple run’. I stop for a while but am unable to stay offline for a long period. Help me.- Vineeth

Mobile gaming has come a long way. We now have full-fledged console-quality games available for android. These games are addictive and very popular. ‘Candy crush saga’, ‘temple run’, ‘angry birds’, ‘dragon fly’ …… the list goes on! Despite all of these hardcore games, the majority of mobile games available can be labeled as “time killers.”

Computer games or online games have become preferred activities for developing the critical thinking and producing active learning field and have become one of the most popular leisure time activities for adolescents and young adults. Playing games can be beneficial in coping the problem in the short run, but in the long run it can show addiction symptoms and person can be game addicted. Internet or android gaming addiction causes symptoms similar to drug addiction.

Teens and adolescents find enjoyment in playing online role playing games in their leisure time, and not everyone who does this is an addict. The vast majority of online gamers are able to strike a balance between gaming, work, friends and family, but unfortunately for some the compulsion to play online games becomes uncontrollable; meaning that other areas of real life get neglected.

Gaming addiction can be defined as the excessive and morbid use of mobile or computer online games by taking the advantage of social networking sites. When this excessive use tends to interfere with everyday reality and influence it significantly, it becomes an addiction.

According to a survey (2012), 72% of American households with an internet connection have at least one member participating in online gaming. The scenario in India is not much less. Most users nowadays opt for online gaming while most gaming devices provide direct internet access, a prerequisite for the extremely popular roles games

In fact, many scientific studies prove that addiction to android gaming can cause psychomotor disorders, desensitisation of emotions, addictive coercive behaviour, personality changes, learning difficulties and anti-social behaviours.

The warning signs of online game addiction include:

  • Gaming to escape difficult life situations
  • Playing for longer periods as time goes on
  • Skipping showers and meals to play
  • Poor performance at work or school
  • Lying to others to hide gaming activities
  • Exhibiting signs of irritation when forced to stop gaming
  • In an article in The American Journal of Psychiatry, author Jerald Block outlines the following set of criteria to help define game addiction:
  • Excessive use often associated with a loss of sense of time or a neglect of basic drives.
  • Withdrawal, including feelings of anger, tension, and/or depression when the mobile or tablet is inaccessible.
  • Tolerance, including the need for better computer equipment, latest model mobile, more software, or more hours of use.
  • Negative repercussions, including arguments, lying, poor achievement, social isolation, and fatigue.

Reasons for online gaming addiction

Research done by Alison and his associates in 2006 revealed that problems in interpersonal relationships can lead to constant occupation with online games. The aggressiveness of our modern era both in school and society can urge children to the creation of virtual world in which they seek tranquility. Isolation and alienation of people and families make children prefer virtual worlds.

Another reason for gaming addiction could be social issues like violence in all forms. In such cases child’s diminished or decreased self-esteem often gets replaced by the increased self-esteem within the game. Children thus opt for the virtual world instead of the real one. Tediousness may also urge children towards the menace of the online gaming addiction.

Lack of self-control can also trap children in to constant preoccupation with gaming with a negative impact on their real life. With narcissism being a distinctive feature of the teenager’s character, things can get even worse. Game user will constantly try to improve their success rates and to add more advantages to their virtual character. The line between real and virtual becomes blurry, with extremely negative consequences.

Online gaming becomes a way to escape from numerous problems of daily reality, urging students devote more and more time to it. Communication among the gamers provided through interactive gaming interfaces can act as a catalyst towards online gaming addiction. This easily traps the young users who lack interpersonal relationships.

How to overcome gaming addiction:

Just as with other forms of addiction unless you face up to the fact that you are addicted in the first place you are not going to be able to overcome the addiction full stop. You need to be brutally honest with yourself and answer truthfully whether you think your usage of your mobile phone is impacting on your personal and social life. Once the problem has been identified you are then able to work towards a solution to the problem.

Overcoming any addiction requires taking small steps, one at a time. Trying to achieve too much in one go will do you more harm than good.

Try spending some time away from your phone, even an hour a day to start with, will make a difference to your perceived reliance on it. Go for a walk and leave the phone at home, go for a bath but leave the phone in another room.

Regain your independence

By restricting the amount of time that you spend each day away from your phone, you will be working towards regaining your independence from it. So that eventually you will once again view it as a communication tool rather than a lifeline to a virtual world.

Engage in real, face to face conversations more and enjoy those conversations. Develop some alternate hobby. Volunteer in any social organisation.

Self - help tips:

  • Recognise any underlying problem that may support your gaming addiction. If you are struggling with depression, stress, or anxiety, for example, gaming addiction might be a way to self-soothe rocky moods. Have you had problems with alcohol or drugs in the past? Recognise if you need to address treatment in these areas or return to group support meetings.
  • Build your coping skills. Perhaps blowing off steam on the gaming is your way of coping with stress or angry feelings. Or maybe you have trouble relating to others, or are excessively shy with people in real life. Building skills in these areas will help you weather the stresses and strains of daily life without resorting to compulsive internet use.
  • Strengthen your support network. The more relationships you have in real life, the less you will need the internet for social interaction. Set aside dedicated time each week for friends and family. If you are shy, try finding common interest groups such as a sports team, education class, or book reading club. This allows you to interact with others and let relationships develop naturally.
  • Replace your gaming time with healthy activities. If you are bored and lonely, resisting the urge to get back online to play game can be very difficult. Have a plan for other ways to fill the time, such as going to lunch with family or a friend or inviting a friend over.
  • Get help. Teenagers often rebel against their parents but if they hear the same information from a different authority figure, they may be more inclined to listen. Don’t be afraid to seek professional counseling if you fail with above mentioned ways. Therapy can give you a tremendous boost in controlling internet use.

Cognitive-behavioural therapy provides step-by-step ways to stop compulsive gaming behaviours and change your perceptions regarding internet, smartphone, and computer use and stop gaming. Therapy can also help you learn healthier ways of coping with uncomfortable emotions, such as stress, anxiety, or depression.

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