Express press service
Those who grew up in the 2000s would remember a time when they had to beg their parents to fund a visit to the cybercafé just to indulge in computer games. With electronic gadgets now becoming an integral part of a person’s life, the days of saving pocket money to spend an hour in cyberspace are over. There’s no doubt that advancements in technology have been a boon for gamers – as well as helping to relieve stress, they’ve been known to improve problem-solving skills and the like. The other side of the coin includes cyber addiction.
Although India is not new to crimes triggered due to gambling addiction, recent reports of a young boy from Lucknow who allegedly killed his mother after she banned him from playing PUBG, a game online battle royale games have once again brought the problem of gambling addiction to light. In another report, a 15-year-old boy died by suicide in Andhra Pradesh after being teased for losing a PUBG game on Sunday. In fact, according to a recent study by the Indian Journal of Community Medicine and Public Health 2020, about 3.5% of Indian adolescents suffer from Internet gaming disorder (IGD), a behavioral disorder associated with online gaming addiction. “A dependent person [to gaming] is controlled by an external force. Someone preventing them from indulging in [these games] can lead to aggressive behavior,” says Dr. Srividya Rajaram, a clinical psychologist based in Faridabad. In such a scenario, it is important to assess the severity of online gambling addiction.
Impact of containment
The pandemic-induced lockdown has also led to an increase in time spent gaming. “Being stuck at home indefinitely, teenagers needed something to keep them entertained. Games have been part of the growth. With no physical space available, it shifted to virtual space,” says Laxmi Nagar-based professional gamer Aashi, who goes by the name Savage Girl. Gavnish Khurana, Pitampura resident who is also a gaming enthusiast, adds, “During COVID-19, we had a lot of time. I feel like the game became a habit back then. Many did not feel the waste of time, which led to an excess of the habit.
The root cause
Players point out that any excess will lead to addiction. “People go overboard with playing time and that’s where the problems come in,” says Rajouri Garden resident and professional gamer Simar Sethi, who uses the nickname Psy for games. Aashi adds that the problem is not with the games being played, but with the inability to identify the compulsive behavior. Apart from the psychological consequences, continued gambling can also affect your physical health. Citing his own example, Sethi shares, “I have repetitive strain injury (RSI) on my hands because during my childhood I didn’t take care of my physical health.”
Have a steady routine
It is important for an online player to establish boundaries which can help create a sense of stability. It is recommended to have a designated playing schedule, which does not exceed four hours per day. Sethi concludes, “There have been times when I think, if not for the game, what would I have done. Prioritizing your studies can also help open up other avenues for children.
Giving advice on what parents can do for teenage gamers, Dr Srividya Rajaram shares…
- Spend time with your children and talk to them.
- Keep an eye on in-game purchases. Better understand the games played to learn more about child psychology.
- Educate children about cybersecurity.
- Educate them about the limits. It may not be easy, but parents must try.