Internet video gaming addiction is real and hazardous to the mental health which eventually affects the physical body. With better graphics, more realistic characters, and greater strategic challenges, it’s not surprising that teens would prefer to play the video game than hang out with friends, play sports, or even watch television.
This 16 year old, class 9 youth from Delhi stays glued to the computer for straight eight hours a day which sometimes would stretch to be 12 hours, gaming non-stop. The game addiction going out of control began regulating his thinking ability, social interaction with real people, sleep, eating habits and human responses. The gaming took over his brains that after he took a break from gaming, he became highly “distracted, irritable and disinterested”. Presently occupying a bed at BLK Super Speciality Hospital, this youth, student at a private school in central Delhi is undergoing medication and psychotherapy.
There is a category called Internet gaming addiction. In diagnostic parallels, this type of addiction is under the category for further research. It is not a clear-cut disorder. This is an unusual case. There have been case reports in India about this. But there has been no study on Internet gaming addiction in the country as yet. It is very hard to get even 10-15 patients to conduct such a study. These are rare casesDr Manish Jain, who is supervising the teenager’s rehabilitation.
”For this boy, it was not about completing a mission or beating a high score or preset standard. It was about temporarily becoming an online character and build relationships with other online players as an escape from reality. He was part of an online group. This group used to perpetuate competitive video gaming,” adds Jain.
According to medical professionals and doctors, the symptoms of the addictive mental illness can be very difficult to identify and would require precision to nail it right. But in this case the first symptom of the addiction was the boy becoming aggressive towards his own mother.
”Initially, his scores at school were badly affected and he became quite asocial. At home, he became very aggressive towards his mother. Other family members were also getting affected by his behaviour. He was distracted, irritable or sometimes disinterested,” Dr Jain says.
The next step of of the addiction is when the youth gained more than 10 kgs in just six months time and he does not do anything and stays glued to the monitor from morning till night.
Biologically, his eating pattern was vastly affected. He used to binge at odd hours leading to weight gain. He then started coming up with lame excuses to skip schoolDr Manish Jain
The overweight that affected his ego and personality, also him being the single child of his parents, forced the boy to isolate himself from his friends, neighbours and the society. “He would isolate himself in order to play games. He would miss out on family events or outing with friends,” added Jain.
A part of the treatment and rehabilitation, the boy is allowed to play two or three times a week for two hours.
“Withdrawal can be tough but he is responding well. Under psychotherapy, we are helping him develop healthier habits,” says Jain.
As the treatment started, the first change that started to see in the boy is that he began being more social and started to spend more time with his family and friends.
“Parents should always have a balanced approach while allowing their children to use technology. In this case, his social activities and family outings have been increased. This is the main focus of therapy,” says Jain.