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Internet Gaming Disorder a new behavioural addiction: Experts

New Delhi, June 11, 2022- Internet Gaming Disorder, or online gaming addiction, has become a new behavioural addiction that engages the younger generation despite negative consequences on physical, mental, social or financial well-being, said Rajesh Kumar, Prof (HoD) psychiatry, Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences.

Talking to IANS, Kumar said that such behavioural addiction involves compulsion to engage in a non-substance-related behaviour despite any negative consequences to the person’s physical, mental, social or financial well-being.

“There is hardly any difference between gaming addiction and alcohol addiction. It gives a similar kind of kick and later develops into a serious addiction.

“Internet gaming disorder has been included in the 5th edition of The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM5),” he said.

According to a study published in the Indian Journal of Community Medicine and Public Health 2020, about 3.5 per cent Indian adolescents suffer from Internet Gaming Disorder (IGD). The rate is 0.5 per cent higher than the global average.

Indian studies show that 8 per cent boys and 3 per cent girls fall in the IGD bracket. Experts blame the extended screen time for this disorder.

“Nearly 41 per cent of India’s populations are below 20 years of age, which means that online gaming has a vast market before them. The main target of this addiction is the child of 5 to 18 years of age bracket. As brains remain underdeveloped at this stage, they easily become prey of this gaming addiction,” umar said.

At this stage of the immature brain, they want to have immediate enjoyment which turns into addiction.

However, these are productive years which go in vain with Internet games, causing long term damages to this generation that results in family conflict, criminal tendency and others at later stage of life, Psychiatry Professor said.

Kumar blames the Covid-19 pandemic for rise in such disorder to some extent, saying that the health critis has changed people’s lifestyle.

Everything is now available online which has brought everyone to the mobile resulting in excess screen time and addiction to the device.

“At brain level, addiction is similar to chemical mechanism,” said Nimesh G. Desai, former director of Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences (IHBAS).

However, he added that not all users are addicted.

Terming it double-edged swords, he said that technological advancements are both useful and harmful, if we use it cautiously.

“According to a WHO report, addiction to online games is equal to substances like cocaine, drugs and gambling. This is a kind of temporary psychotic stage in which the gamer forgets about the conscience and just follows the instructions,” said Shamsi Akbar, former research officer, Department of Geriatric Mental Health, King George’s Medical University.

She added that the gamers are trapped into a situation called Passivity Phenomena where they are being controlled by an external force and when someone stops them from playing the game, they become aggressive.  (Agency)

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