The Effects of Online Gaming on Children.
Amrita Tiwari – Research Associate, her interest lies in social dimensions of the digital ecosystem.
Episode Summary: PUBG and Freefire are just a few! Online games are now a part of children’s everyday lives. Listen to the new episode of #UnwiringTech which talks about children in the world of online gaming.
Transcript: Host: Welcome to another episode of “Unwiring Tech.” I’m your host, Amrita, this podcast is a platform where we understand global digital issues, and explore the ‘why’ behind each topic and incident.Today we are entering into the next series of podcasts on Children in the Age of Online Games.
Host: We’ve all been there – that moment in a competitive gaming session when tensions are running high, and emotions are at their peak. While it’s perfectly normal to experience feelings like frustration, anger, and disappointment during intense gaming sessions, there’s a lesser-known side to this phenomenon that we’ll be uncovering today, which is gaming addiction.
Host: In July 2023, an alarming incident took place in Alwar, Rajasthan. A child deeply addicted to online games like PUBG and Free Fire experienced mental imbalance, suffering from tremors after losing a game. In the night while sleeping he shouts ‘fire, fire’ and moves his hands as if he is playing a game. The incident forced many to discuss the risks of excessive online gaming in children.
This case of Alwar is not the only case where children addicted to online gaming took extreme steps. The child’s obsession with games like PUBG and Free Fire led him to play for hours without break by using his neighbor’s Wi-Fi without his parents’ knowledge.
Recognising the dangerous impact of compulsive and problematic gaming, the World Health Organisation in its International Classification of Disease (ICD-11) defined gaming as disorder. Gaming disorder is defined as:
as a pattern of gaming behaviour characterized by loss of control over gaming, withdrawal symptoms when not playing, increasing priority given to gaming over other activities to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities, like, physical activity, sleep, work, education, family and others. Also, the continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.
Online games are designed in such a way that losing can become unbearable. For some, it becomes a breaking point, leading them to make the unthinkable decision of ending their own lives. For others, it shatters their mental balance, leaving them vulnerable and struggling to cope. Take, for instance, the case of the Alwar child mentioned earlier. While experiencing severe tremors or physical symptoms after losing online games is a rare occurrence, it underscores the potential emotional impact of gaming. Research suggests that losing in online games can trigger a range of emotional reactions such as frustration, anger, disappointment, and stress. Online games’ immersive nature can grip a child’s emotions to an extent that losing can feel like a personal failure of monumental proportions. The addictive nature of these games combined with the psychological toll of repeated losses paints a worrying picture.
Health experts have highlighted that gaming addiction can be influenced by a variety of factors, including psychological, social, and environmental elements. Some of the common contributing factors include the immersive and rewarding nature of games, the sense of belonging and social interactions within gaming communities, the allure of escaping from real-life problems, underlying mental health issues, and a lack of alternative fulfilling activities.
Host: Dr. Jyoti Kapoor, the Founder and Senior Psychiatrist at Manasthali, shared some insightful advice for parents who are navigating this complex landscape. She emphasised the importance of fostering a positive and supportive family environment to mitigate the wonders of the virtual world.
Host: To wrap up, it’s essential that we approach the topic of gaming addiction with a balanced perspective. Online games can undoubtedly offer entertainment, relaxation, and even cognitive benefits, but like anything else, moderation is key. If you or someone you know is struggling with gaming addiction, seeking professional help and finding healthier ways to balance gaming with other activities is crucial.It’s a plea for awareness. We must understand that these games are more than just entertainment. They can become a battlefield for a child’s self-esteem and mental well-being.
Host: Thank you for tuning in to this episode of Unwiring Tech, I hope you found our discussion on gaming addiction enlightening and informative. Remember, understanding the potential impacts of excessive gaming can lead to healthier choices and a more balanced approach to technology and leisure. Stay tuned for more thought-provoking episodes, and until next time, take care!