Gaming addiction: call to action for parents and kids
Let me address the parents first.
A 12-year old boy secretly sets up alarm for 4 am to play video games for a couple of hours and then goes back to sleep for an hour before waking up for school at 7 am. Now in the summer months, this boy is spending 12–14 hours daily playing various video games and watching others play video games on YouTube. Do you know when, how long and exactly what your kids are doing in front of PCs and consoles?
An 8-year old girl was taken to a psychiatrist a few weeks back because of sleep disorder and perpetual fatigue. She was struggling to stay focused even in answering simple questions like “what is the name of the cartoon you are watching?” or “who is your best friend?” The psychiatrist noted the girl’s binge watching of YouTube videos and playing video games for four to five hours straight was affecting her moods, eating habits and sleeping patterns. Do you notice any oddly distracted behavior in your child?
A 10-year old apparently healthy looking boy suddenly went into a fit and was rushed to the hospital by his family. The medical test results came in clear but his family mentioned the boy has been playing Fortnite, a survival video game, sometimes eight hours daily. The doctor believes the child was suffering from hyper sensory stimulus. Have you ever immersed yourself in any of these type of games for even ten minutes with the fast graphics and intense music?
A 3-year old girl violently screamed and kicked the bed like in the famous scene from The Exorcist, when her mother took away the smartphone the kid was holding for at least the two hours. Everyone in the room was stunned at the intensity of the outburst. A new devil in town, perhaps. How different is the reaction compared to drug addicts undergoing withdrawal?
A 9-year old boy was being sent highly suggestive and inappropriate messages on an inside chat channel within the game Pixel Gun 3D. These were random, faceless strangers reaching out to kids with intent to promote adult content. There was no audio or video that may be easily picked up by a semi-attentive parent but just texts. Do you know how and who your child communicates with once online?
Dear parents, its our fault! We are the providers. We are the monitors. We are the “shoulder-shruggers” when our kids suffer at the hands of these new age addictions.
While American Psychiatric Association (APA) is still on the fence whether to classify video game addiction as technically a disorder of some sort, the World Health Organization (WHO) has proposed to include gaming disorder in the 11th revision of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems. In simple terms, WHO believes video game addiction (VGA) is a disease.
Let me repeat it, video game addiction is a disease!
I get it, the video games industry is a giant one with over $100 billion in annual sales in 2017. Declaring gaming addiction as a disorder will naturally have a negative financial impact on the industry and it is no different than the cigarette or alcohol businesses where regulation runs head first into lobby groups funded by some of the strongest balance sheets in the world.
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