gaming addiction
Recognise signs of gaming and screen addiction. (Source: Getty Images)

By Dr Sapna Bangar

One of the common issues plaguing our youth currently is video-gaming addiction. There is certainly a rise in parents seeking help from professionals for problems with excessive time spent playing video games. ‘He freaks out when we tell him to stop playing his game’, ‘Is my child addicted?’ ‘His aggression has increased and has got us worried’. I can still hear the desperation in the voices of parents seeking our help. The problem has reached such magnitude that The World Health Organisation declared compulsively playing video games as a mental health condition in 2018. Termed “gaming disorder” , this will apply to people who play excessively and of “sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning and would normally have been evident for at least 12 months.”

When should you be really worried?

Most children and adults play video or mobile games for recreation, so when should you be worried as a parent? If your child shows any of the following signs, it is definitely time to tackle the problem.

  • Your child’s social interactions have reduced considerably. They refuse to go out of the house or meet their friends.
  • Your child’s grades are failing and they refuse to do their school work or don’t even seem bothered about it anymore.
  • Stopping video games causes a huge meltdown, anger outburst or makes them aggressive or excessively irritable.
  • Your child lies to you about the time they spend playing or steals money to play video games.

Why should you be worried?

So why are we so worried about our children playing video games. A youth in my clinic challenged me that if he was playing cricket, his parents would have encouraged him as opposed to bringing him for counselling. I explained that video gaming causes the following problems:

Lack of sleep

Kids who play excessively do so especially at night, mostly to hide from the watchful eyes of their parents. This results in sleep…

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Mayra Rodriguez

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