As the global pandemic progresses and authorities around the world enforce lockdowns, housebound masses are resorting to online games and other forms of entertainment.

During the past few months, the average time users spent playing games as PUBG and Fortnite has increased exponentially. Consequently, every now and then, we are getting reports of young minds being addicted to online games. PUBG Mobile is unarguably one of the most popular games in recent times and has intrigued thousands of new comers. However, in the longer run, this battle royale game has affected plenty of teenagers adversely.

But addiction to gaming is a multifaceted argument, on one side, medical science and parents are convinced that gaming has an adverse affect on children. On this other hand, statistics show that gaming itself is not the problem, but parenting, and social problems are to blame.

Something that heavily sways this argument, is how the gaming capital of the world, Japan, with the highest number of hours being played globally, suffers far less in both gaming addiction and incidents of gaming related violence.

A case of gaming addiction was reported in the Bihar Colony of Karachi, where a teenager, who was addicted to PUBG, has become mentally challenged. According to the doctors, excessive video games can cause loss of mental balance.

Where many people are of the opinion that video games are just another source of entertainment like watching movies and reading books, the World Health Organization (WHO) officially included gaming disorder as a disease in the International Classification of Diseases (ICD 11) last year. The disorder is categorized similar to gambling disorder.

Dr. Samir Parikh, director, department of mental health and behavioral sciences, Fortis Healthcare, explains:

Gaming disorder is characterized by a pattern of persistent and recurring gaming behavior where a player begins to give priority to gaming over other daily activities. While gaming disorder affects a small proportion of the people who play video games, anyone who spends excessive time gaming is vulnerable to this condition.

The addiction is not only limited to teenagers; it can affect adults the same. Talking about this, Dr. Priyanka Kapoor, clinical psychologist, BLK Hospital, said:

A wide range of adults are lost in the maze before they know it. Adults with a competitive streak, without a job or with less workload, are more likely to fall for it. It is important to differentiate between interest and addiction.

This is not the first time a case like this has been reported. Individuals with gaming disorders have been known to take irrational real-life decisions and even inflict injuries to themselves and the people around them.

It is best for parents to keep an eye on their children’s screen time and online activities. While those who are self-sufficient, should restrain themselves from overindulging, and regularly engage in other physical activities.