"Our greatest national resource is the minds of our children." - Walt Disney
A few decades ago, Rani used to wake up at 6 am, brush her teeth, roam around in the kitchen backyard, water the plants, embrace sunlight, go to school and in the evening, she played seven stones with her friends. Kids used to talk to the flowers, run with the pet animals, sing to the birds and draw their imaginations on the walls of their homes. In 2019, Rani's son Arjun, a six-year old boy, wakes up at 8 am, takes his mother's phone, and starts playing his favourite video game even before brushing his teeth. He spends around 7-8 hours playing video or mobile games. He cannot identify flowers and fruits, he does not talk much to his grandparents and he doesn't run or play outside. He weighs more than what he is supposed to at his age. He wears large spectacles and loves fast food more than homemade delicacies. By the age of 10, he is diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. This is a hypothetical story and Arjun is a representative of majority of the kids in this century. Campus Reporter tries to analyse the situation and find out what exactly is ruining the childhoods of our children.
Today, most kids and teenagers are well-versed in video games. Billions play such games every day. But, 3-4% of them cannot live without those games. That is where the problem lies. Video games are designed after considering behaviour psychology to keep you hooked. Nowadays, games are immersive experiences and such levels of stimulation can cause changes to your brain functions. American Psychiatric Association defines gaming disorder as a condition warranting more clinical research and experience before it might be considered in the main book as a formal disorder. In 2018, the World Health Organisation (WHO) included gaming disorder alongside gambling disorder. Gaming disorders can result in anxiety, depression, obesity, sleeping disorders etc.
How can you identify if you or anyone you know are suffering from the gaming disorder? When a person is addicted to mobile games, he gives priority to gaming over his normal life. The person may get irritated over small things. He will lose interest in his previous hobbies. He will be unable to manage his relationships, life, career and health. The person may initially begin by playing such games for 1-2 hours, but, over time, he may develop a need to play longer sessions like 8-10 hours. The person sleeps less, avoid friends and family members, and loses or gains weight over a short period of time.
How harmful can gaming disorder be? The intensity of the negative impact of internet, video or mobile games on health can be realised from WHO considering gaming disorder as a mental health disease. It can disrupt our decision-making capability and reasoning ability. Preoccupation with games can make us oblivious about proper nutrition. Game addicts eventually become either obese or anaemic. They may suffer from numbness in wrists, severe headaches, backaches etc. Children forget to embrace friendships. Their relationships with their family also deteriorate. All these changes go up to ruining the character of an individual. Such people in future become less receptive to others' pain, sufferings or worries. They will plunge into depression, anxiety and even show suicidal tendencies.
Is there a way out? Definitely, even if it's hard! First of all, many of the 21st-century parents give their mobile phones to kids just to stop their cries and naughty behaviour. In fact, they are doing a great harm to their kids. Parents should spend time with their children, talk to them, play with them and give them a colourful and memorable childhood. Teachers also can educate kids from kindergarten about the importance of friendships, playing in the ground and enjoying life. We should let our children play games that makes their body strong like cricket, football, running, basketball, hockey etc and also games that sharpen their minds like chess. Let our kids go out and play in the sun. Let them learn from the nature. These are the ways how we can prevent children from becoming gaming addicts. But, what about those who have become addicts? Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT), group therapy and partial hospitalisation programs are some solutions. Wilderness therapy is also used widely, which involves the complete removal of the individual from environments where video games are accessible. Proper awareness should be given at schools about the harmful effects of the Gaming disorder.
It is okay for kids to play video games. But, it never should become an addiction. Nature should become the teacher, friend and guide to our children. Then, we can surely build a healthier, brighter and happier generation.