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Modern Addiction

No one is immune from addiction; it afflicts people of all ages, races, classes, and professions.

Patrick J. Kennedy

Addiction is not something new. Each of us will have some form of addiction, which might have been discovered or not. We are very much aware of addictions related to alcohol, narcotics, caffeine, tobacco, sugar, gambling, and certain pharmaceutical drugs. But there have emerged addictions related to technology, starting from the late ’90s and now in the 21st century. The three biggest addictions are social media, gaming, and porn. People should be made aware of these addictions, and they should be addressed as seriously as addressing the issue of narcotics. 

This blog hopes to address the problem of excessive online gaming. Video games are a billion-dollar business and have been for many years. In 2020, the revenue from the worldwide PC gaming market was estimated at almost 37 billion U.S. dollars, while the mobile gaming market generated an estimated income of over 77 billion U.S. dollars. Some of the major players in the video gaming industry are Tencent, Sony, and Apple. At present, the major gaming markets are China, USA, and Japan. Some of the types of games are action games, sports games, battle royale games, action-adventure games, and role-playing games.

The video gaming model is designed to train our brains to perform multiple tasks with a greater focus which will eventually help in real-world circumstances. But if that turns out to be addictive, then it makes the brain function worse. Many online gamers constantly stay up late to play games, leading to sleep deprivation and inconsistent sleep patterns. This results in adverse long-term effects on their mental and physical health. Moreover, youngsters get disconnected or alienated from actual world scenarios and lose out on their family time. Negligence of studies, work, relationships, health, and hygiene are also huge effects of gaming addiction. They are also likely to experience anxiety and depression. Scientific research has shown that excessive online gaming and narcotics usage have similar adverse effects.  Games like battle royale games are known for changing the behaviors of gamers towards more aggressive and less sympathetic persons.

Why is video gaming addictive?

Certain activities like playing video games create excessive dopamine (the feel-good hormone), which gives you intense pleasure and a need to re-experience it. Then you start repeating that behavior. When you repeat it several times, your brain adjusts to release less dopamine. Then the only option left would be to increase the frequency of the activity. The dopamine rush is so powerful that it restricts the functions of other prefrontal regions of the brain, resulting in numbness that enables gamers to exceed over fifteen hours of gaming straight. Video gaming gives a sensation of value and victory players miss in their actual lives.

No one is immune from addiction, it affects people of all ages, races, classes, and professions.

Patrick J. Kennedy

Solutions

Parents should play a major role to safeguard their children from any addiction. They need to understand the hidden danger behind technological devices when they decide to buy them for their children in expectation of better knowledge and improvements in grades at school. Sri Lankan parents have minimal knowledge about technological addictions. They usually think that whatever electronic gadgets they buy for their children will benefit them immensely. This is true, depending on how these devices are used.

We are in an era where parents are more likely to lose control over their children. Hence, they fail to keep track of what kind of content the children are watching and the time spent on the digital screen. Yes, parents need to trust their children but parents have to remember that their children are going through a phase of rapid hormone changes which results in the change of their social thinking and is contributing to what they will become in the future. Hence, they can be vulnerable enough for manipulation. Therefore, parents need to carefully oversee the activities of their children, especially on the internet.

Telecommunication companies offer parental control options that let parents restrict their children from seeing or downloading what they consider inappropriate and oversee what the internet is used for. So, parents should use this option. Assigning time restrictions for children to use devices (the standard time recommended by scientists is two to three hours per day) is another critical step that parents should take. Children should also be encouraged to do sports and hobbies which don’t require digital gadgets. 

What about the children who are already addicted to gaming?

Parents should never completely stop it because that will make the children more aggressive and lead to more complex issues. Parents should involve their children in more time for family bonding and interactions. Parents could also sit down with their children to play games together but with the condition of a time limit.

What about the adults who are addicted to gaming?

First, they should evaluate themselves to know the extent of their addiction. Then, they can try to use a time tracker app that gives a warning when they exceed the time duration. If self-control doesn’t seem to work, they shouldn’t be ashamed of asking for help from others, such as counselors. Another effective way would be to partner up with another person who also wants to overcome their addiction and inform each other of their progress in reducing the time spent on gaming.

With the incorporation of features like Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR), the gaming industry will continue to get more and more attractive. Therefore, players need to be wiser and rational about their priorities and actively take steps to combat their addiction.

You are your greatest limitation. Hence, nothing is as powerful as your willpower.

Either you run the day, or the day runs you.

Jim Rohn

Written by: Rtr. Loshini Gnanasambanthan

Edited by: Rtr. Hiruni Hettiarachchi

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