Internet or Online Gaming Addiction

Over the past few weeks I had many emails and personal counseling sessions with parents who are extremely worried about their child's mental health. The main reason is "internet or online gaming addiction".
The adolescent is emotionally unstable and losing on social and scholastic performance.
It's very nice to see that parents are becoming so searching and becoming very knowledgeable about a phenomenon that earlier many considered treated as "passing adolescent phase"

Hereby a small over-view of what are the prominent signs and symptoms, indicating presence of internet/online gaming addiction.

1. Preoccupation
Someone who is addicted to computer, video, or Internet gaming often exhibits an unusual preoccupation with the game or computer when he is away from it.
The teen/adult could seem distracted, irritable, or disinterested in any talk. Though he may talk about the game almost constantly.

2.Downplaying Computer Use
It's common for someone with addictive, computer-related behaviors to downplay the amount of time he/she spends in front of the TV or computer.
The person initially starts by denying that he/she is spending excessive time on the game/internet.
This is followed by decreased performance at work/studies.
Then the person starts getting irritable on being question.
Finally he/she starts to outright lie about their use pattern.

3. Lack of Control
A person who is addicted iis unable to control the amount of time he/she spends on the computer.
He may go online with the intent to spend 15 or 20 minutes, but will keep extending the time until several hours have passed.

4. Loss of Time
A person may sit down at his computer, again with the intent to spend only a few minutes, but completely lose track of time and suddenly find that several hours have passed. It is not unusual for someone with a addiction to play a game or surf the internet through the night and only realize how much time has passed when the sun begins to rise.

5.Negative Impact on Other Areas of Life
Because the person spends so much time on the computer or video game console, other areas of life are neglected. He may grow distant from friends and family who had previously been close. Homework may go unfinished, causing grades to slip.

In more extreme cases, the may even neglect personal hygiene, choosing to play video games rather than taking a shower.

6. Hiding From Negative or Uncomfortable Feelings or Situations
Some people become addicted to gaming because they use it to self-medicate. When confronted with situations or feelings that are uncomfortable (feeling sad, arguing with a friend, or getting a bad grade), the person may "hide" in the game as a method of avoidance.

7. Defensiveness
When confronted or asked about his time spent gaming, a person may become defensive. Denial is often an indication that something is wrong, especially if the person seems unconcerned that friends and family feel neglected or left out of his life.

8.Misuse of Money
Someone who is addicted to video, computer, or Internet gaming will spend a disproportionate amount of money on computer-related items.

9. Diet
A change in diet is observed. Such a person will rely more on instant food like colas, burgers, high-sugar level candy bars, sweets, coffee and nicotine

As result of this there might be a drastic change in his weight within a few months.

10. Mixed Feelings
As with any addiction initially causes euphoric feelings, but that euphoria is quickly followed by guilt. Person repeatedly promises himself/herself and promises the parents/family members he will not indulge in the same again.
This slowly becomes a ritual which he/she learns to manipulate to buy more time to be involved in the addiction.
I have seen cases were an adult would swear by parents, god, even on his kids.. or perform some great pooja denouncing the use of internet/games again.. only to fall back onto the game within 15days time.

presence of the following 5 signs for more than 1 month, indicate one needs to contact a psychiatrist/psychologist immediately:

1. You feel really happy when you're online or when you're playing games, but as soon as you have to stop, you get angry or upset.

2. You think about going online or playing when you are supposed to be focusing on other things, like work or having dinner.

3. You spend more time with your computer or mobile than physically hanging out with your friends.
You are more comfortable communicating with people through computer/mobile rather than meeting them in person.

4. Your friends or family ask what you spend all your time doing, and you lie about it or laugh it off, but inside you know they may have a point.

5. You get up in the middle of the night to check your e-mail or your facebook comments because you're having a hard time sleeping. or you constantly are thinking of what moves to play in the game.

Dr.Hemant Mittal
email -

1 comment:

  1. Parents should set rules with regards to computer usage. Also, the device should be placed in an open area where parents can look at the sites that their kids are visiting.