By: Zawar Haider
Video games have been a part of communities all over the world ever since their invention in 1958. Gaining mainstream popularity in the 1970s and 1980s when arcade games, gaming consoles and home computer systems were introduced to the general public. Initially being seen as a hobby, they have taken over the lives of teenagers in the form of an addiction. The addiction is defined in the 11th Revision of the International classification of Diseases (ICD-11) by the World Health Organization (WHO) in mid-2018, labeled as mental illness or “Gaming Disorder”.
With the advent of technology, especially in the youth, video games are taking over their daily lives at an alarming rate. The results of recent polls in various countries reveal that almost 1 in every 10 young individuals especially males, are addicted to video games. In Switzerland, a report commissioned by the Federal Office of Public Health published in 2018 found that around 1% of the population (approximately 70,000 people) is “problematic”. Pozynak from World Health Organization points out that the inclusion of gaming disorder in ICD-11 was based on the conclusions of experts from more than 20 countries, as well as evidence of increasing internet-gaming-related treatment demand. The American Psychological Association (APA) concluded that there is a “consistent correlation” between violent game use and aggression.
Even in Pakistan, the recent popular video game Player Unknown Battle Grounds (PUBG) has gained quite a reputation among children and teenagers alike. There have been many cases where the purchase of in-game currency has caused quite a lot of problems for families. Lack of self-control, poor sleep schedule and increased depression and anxiety levels are one of the leading outcomes of this addiction.
Although video games have significant positive effects on children given that it is under tolerable limits. It improves problem solving skills, enhances memory, and improves brain speed and concentration. However, excessive time spent on video games have far worse results. It causes uneasiness or restlessness when unable to play, preoccupation of thoughts and low tolerance in the amount of time spent of gaming. Having psychological effects on children which include social isolation, aggressive behavior and lack of awareness of the surroundings.
Dr. Nicholas Kardaras, the author of the 2016 book Glow Kids: How Screen Addiction Is Hijacking Our Kids says
“We have, as a society, gone all-in on tech. So we don’t want some buzz-killing truth, telling us that the emperor has no clothes and that the devices that we’ve all so fallen in love with can be a problem“ — especially for kids and their developing brains, he adds.