Psychological impact of excessive gaming and ways to manage internet dependency

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Image Source : FREEPIK

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The internet has become an integral part of our lives and, the use of the same has grown substantially. For the longest time, addiction was limited to the use of substances. In recent years, Internet addiction and gaming have become one of the most prominent types of addiction for the current generation. Internet Addiction is referred to as an impulse control disorder without a substance involved. In response to this, recent studies have demonstrated a positive correlation between excessive internet usage and mental disorders. Regardless of the types of activities pursued afterwards, internet addiction is a psychological dependence on the internet.

Internet gaming can result in psycho-social and behavioural changes affecting their daily activities. Apart from physical health issues such as sleep disturbances and eating habits, internet gaming and addiction can have a psychological impact, such as Anxiety, Depression, Social Phobia, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, etc. 

What are the impacts of excessive gaming and internet addiction?

Gaming and internet addiction is associated with various negative consequences. An individual, addicted to the internet will lose focus on everyday tasks which will negatively impact their academic or professional performance. Researchers have found that people who spend a significant amount of time playing online games or surfing the internet, will have poor verbal memory. In addition to being more aggressive, they are more likely to start self-harming/suicidal thoughts.

People may experience socializing issues that lead them to sacrifice their real-life relationships in favour of spending more time online. 

The online platform might be addictive as it provides an opportunity to maintain anonymity, which allows them to escape any biases or judgments they might otherwise receive. Depending on the game, players can also impersonate certain characters to create an alternate identity. This would additionally make it difficult for them to separate themselves from the virtual world that they become a part of. Apart from these, there are chances that they might face financial losses (gambling or betting), experience loneliness, mood disorders, self-esteem issues, and impulsive behaviour.

Although Gaming and Internet addiction is seen in a small percentage of the population, it is projected to be a major mental health problem soon if not addressed immediately. The parents or caregivers must communicate with their children and help them engage in offline activities and explain the consequences of excessive screen time as well. 

With the booming of technology, several find themselves spending a lot more time online and are finding it hard to cope with the consequences of excessive screen time. 

What are the different ways one manages internet dependency?

1. Pursuing a hobby

Try to get back to doing what you love rather than sitting in front of your gadget and scrolling through it!

2. Fix a time for phone usage
Set some ground rules on when to use the internet and for how long. Draw a boundary! Use the gadget only for work/academic-related or for a particular time and try sticking to it.

3. Spending time with friends and family 
Try spending a lot more time with your family. Do some fun activities together or play games. There is a lot that we might miss out on when we don’t spend time together with our close family and friends. 

4. Technology free- bedroom policy 
We all have inculcated the habit of taking our gadgets to our bedroom and using it before we fall asleep. This can affect not only our duration of sleep but have an impact on the quality of our sleep as well.

5. Knowing the consequences of excessive screen time
Many people are not aware of the psychological consequences of excessive use of the internet or gaming. Try communicating with people and listen to them. 

It is possible that, in some respects, a lack of acceptance of excessive gaming and stigmatization of the behaviour contributes to the higher rate of addiction and problematic play. It’s high time we start acknowledging and addressing the prevailing gaming addiction that we observe. 

(This article is attributed to Saadhvi Raju, Counseling Psychologist, Medall Mind)


(Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. They do not reflect the views of India TV)


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