Video games have captured the imagination of the masses since before the beginning of the 21st century. Many children, teens, and even adults have become enthralled by the world of gaming. While, earlier it was seen as a new pastime and a source of little entertainment, newer games, improved graphics and the advent of the internet age, the world of video games has engulfed people of all age groups into its grasp. While, not all researchers (and even some parents) agree that video games are harmful, and somehow believe that gaming expands the imagination and provide an opportunity to work collaboratively and sharpen cognitive skills, they do nod in approval to the notion that gaming should be done for a limited time. However, games these days have become so engrossing those gamers repeatedly try to win, thus, spending all their time to play video games. This engagement in video games has resulted in reduced physical social interactions and somehow a lowered self-esteem of the individuals involved in gaming. Today, video game addiction is recognized as a disorder where one loses control over gaming and thus, gets impacted negatively. Video games are designed to be engaging. Video game designers, like anyone trying to make a profit, are always looking for ways to get more people to play their games. They make the game challenging enough to keep one coming back for more, but not so hard that the player eventually loses interest. In other words, success for a gamer feels to be just out of reach. This bears a harsh similarity to the more widely recognized disorder of gambling. Another cause of video game addiction is people getting emotionally attached to a video game. In the online multiplayer type games, gamers enjoy creating and temporarily becoming an online character. The virtual relationship which develops as a result of playing multiplayer games online provides the gamer as a way out from the reality. For some individuals who are introvert in nature, this virtual community becomes their go to place because they don't meet their fellow gamers face-to-face, thus, a feeling of being accepted develops. This makes them addicted to such games, and although, it provides temporary emotional relief, it eventually results in negative emotional, social-relational and educational related consequences. It leads to significant harm in the real world.

Gaming addiction has been recognized as a disorder at the global level very recently, and thus, there is as such no universal definition for it. There is no set number of hours one must play in order to be a gaming addict. For gaming addicts, the following behaviours are observed:

● Spending time playing video games is definitely preferred over devoting energy to real-life activities and pursuits.

  • ●  The importance of gaming keeps increasing and separation from gaming causes restlessness and irritable behaviour.

  • ●  All control over the gaming life is lost- the frequency and duration of gaming is erratic and ever increasing.

  • ●  Continuation and escalation of gaming is never ending despite any visible negative consequences on the lifestyle or even on the career.

  • ●  Preoccupation with thoughts of previous gaming activity or anticipation of the next session

  • ●  Isolation from others in order to spend more time gaming

  • ●  Lying to friends and family members about the time spent playing video games in order to

    continue an unmonitored gaming lifestyle.
    On the surface, an addiction to video games may not appear to be disruptingly harmful. However, the people who have experienced such addiction or know someone who has been or is addicted to videogames can testify the vast damage potential this addiction holds . And since, gaming disorder has been recognised at the global level very recently, there are relatively few measures to treat the condition. Although many preventive measures are now being taken, treatment options are still being researched upon. In general, Cognitive- Behavioral Therapy (CBT) has been the treatment modality of choice for video game addiction. Other treatment options include:

    • ●  One-to-one counselling with a psychologist or therapist- video game therapists, however, are rare, but sure to increase as this problem has become unfortunately prevalent.

    • ●  Family therapy to modify family systems and interactions that may have been causing the individual to find solace via video games

    • ●  Wilderness therapy to provide an environment where video games are inaccessible However as it is said,” Prevention is the best cure for all diseases”. Hence, if you are a parent then by taking proper actions and good care of your child you can prevent it from ever happening from him. There are parents who are very strict and keep a complete ban on video games for their child. However, there are others who ensure that their child doesn’t exceed a certain time limit in a day on video games and encourage him to participate in both studies and outdoor activities as well. And if you are an adult who play video games, then be responsible and also take help of your

family and friends to ensure you and even your family members stay away from such addictions and live a healthier lifestyle.
When the signs of addiction become too obvious, even the addicted individual tries once to control the problem. The first instinctive and the most common withdrawal symptom is the urge to get back to gaming on a time-controlled schedule. However, this never lasts and with further actions, many other withdrawal symptoms are seen which include depression, restlessness, irritability, anxiety, anger and verbal abuse, sadness, loneliness, boredom, lack of motivation etc. Even nausea is common among those who are trying to give up gaming. Those who lived in the cocoon of the video game world fear the real world. Giving up the habit is feels too difficult and fantasies and dreams about the game are also common withdrawal symptoms. Many research pages warn that 
in extreme cases, sudden removal of the game from the individual’s lifestyle has resulted in violence and even death. Thus, it is important to understand that it takes time for the brain to recover from the excessive gameplay and thus the procedure to get rid of the gaming lifestyle should be carefully planned and executed slowly.

So, it is crystal clear to us that, the situation is very alarming for our country. Except addiction, there are many demerits of playing those games. They are-
• These games are extremely violent. Excessive violence can trigger aggressive thoughts, emotions and behavior that can ultimately affect the mental health of the young generation. That is why many of our youths are frustrated.

• It makes the young people unproductive. As they are always busy with gaming so as time goes up their learning capability will decrease and ultimately, they will be unproductive.
• These games make them unsocial as they are busy with gaming and don’t interact with people. • It also hampers the physical health of the teenagers. While playing games they are sitting in place for a long time. That means they have no physical activity. It is well established that inadequate physical activity can cause various diseases such as obesity and many other diseases. One the other hand, staring at the mobile or computer screen for a long time can hamper eyesight which will turn into headaches later.

• Playing this game changes, the lifestyle pattern of the teenager. They lost regularity in their everyday life which is deleterious for their health and well-being.
• Kills the valuable time of teenagers.

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We speak the language of Technology & Internet. We understand how the law interacts with Technology & Internet. Cyber Crime Chambers is a boutique firm specializing in internet laws and digital forensic evidence.

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Karthikeyan.N

B.A., B.L., (Hons) IPDP., (London)
Pgd IPR., Pgd Cyber Law., Msc., (IT)
CCI., CFA., IPCL.,
Advocate, Madras High Court

Karthikeyan, is a renowned cyber law expert, who is also the Managing Partner of Law Office of Karthikeyan, a reputed law firm based in Chennai.

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