Online gaming addiction among children has become a major public health issue and a great concern for parents. Children as young as seven years to those in early or late adolescence have become addicted to massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPG) like free fire, subway surfers etc; and this has take a heavy toll on their physical, emotional, psychological, social and academic life. It is making them a prey to ophthalmic issues, musculo skeletal issues, neck ailments, obesity, anxiety and depression.
The built in structure of these games is such that it makes it so attractive to young children as these games are real time, competitive and interactive. They have become so immersed in these games that they no longer feel interested in studies, social life or other healthy hobbies. Like an autistic they too remain absorbed in their own; free fire addicted children are unable to think beyond air drop glowall, custom room, number of kills etc. They spend hours online playing these games with friends and other participants; they lose track of real world happenings; many don’t even sleep at night; they keep on playing these games whole night. One of a woman heard her son shouting during night that i will kill all of them; she started crying that my son has become possessed by some evil spirits ; later she realised that his son was playing online game. This sleep deprivation is taking a heavy toll on their physical and mental health.
To buy ammunition, protection gear and to unlock further levels and features in many online games, users have to pay money online, and children are wasting hard earned money of their parents in these futile things. Some go to the extent of stealing as parents can't provide them money on and off. Those who are good at playing these games then sell their accounts at huge rates, and many teenagers either pressurise their parents to give them money or steal it from their homes to buy those accounts.
Others feel so pressurised to compete, and if they fail to score the coveted rank they start feeling worthless. They are bullied by others, and to take revenge for this bullying sometimes youngesters fight offline as well and those who are smart at play develop feelings of grandiosity and as a result this game keeps them flying between manic like highs and depressive lows.
Some take the game too seriously that they face withdrawal symptoms. They cant bear their parents stopping them and as a result get in constant conflicts with their parents or sibling and this disturbs the whole home environment. At times it leads to marital conflict as parents blame each other for giving access to mobile phone or money to children.
Online gaming addiction is more prominent among teenagers/adolescents. The stage they are in is vital for personality development. It is the time to start exploring the world and to start engaging in brainstorming, analysis, critical evaluation. It is time for knowing the facts, the fundamentals of history, polity, anthropology, geography, life sciences, physics and chemistry. It is time for identity exploration. It is at this stage that a person gets to know himself. What he is meant for, what his ambitions and potentialities are. This is the time for character development and healthy habit formation. It is the time to start understanding the social dynamics and social issues.
Teenagers are the future of a nation and its strength but unfortunately many of them are wasting their prime age in playing online games; watching filth, chit chatting and sticking to social media. They are deviating from productive means like academics and healthy hobbies. They put their future at stake.
It is my request to parents, please be cautious from the very beginning. If you give smart phones to your kids, act smart and keep watch on them - limit screen time. Don't let massively multiplayer online role-playing games (MMORPG) ruin your children. These games will make your children aggressive, impulsive and socially withdrawn. Act wise before it is too late. Restrict access to pocket money. Encourage your children towards healthy hobbies like sports, art, book reading, discussions;,and motivate them towards talent shows and competitions.
It is my appeal to youngsters, please think beyond world of smart phones, online games, and social media. We are here for a purpose. We have a duty to become productive members of society. We have to pay earth a rent for letting us live and cherish its resources and we can do that only by working for betterment of society; by becoming assets rather than parasites. Set big goals in life and strive for them.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author. The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.