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Online gaming addiction can be defined as ‘a compulsive behaviour which interferes with normal living as the game becomes a compulsive habit that completely dominates the addict’s life.’ Gaming addicts make Internet a priority more than family, friends, school or work. Video game addiction, may manifest as; social isolation; mood swings; diminished imagination; and hyper-focus on in-game achievements, to the exclusion of other life events.
For most adolescents, playing games on a PC, PlayStation, mobile device or the Internet is just a regular part of the day. Most of them are able to juggle the multiple requirements of school, like ace-ing for exams or maintaining punctuality in homework submission, important activities such as sports, household or non-household chores, and family life. Gaming becomes an addiction when it starts to interfere with a person's relationships or their pursuit of other goals, such as good grades or being a contributing member of a sports team.
A recent study by Singapore’s Ministry of Education and the Media Development Authority found that nearly 9% of young people in Singapore are “pathological gamers” who play around 37.5 hours each week. While playing an occasional game is harmless, in these extreme cases, it can interfere with day-to-day routines such as working or eating. Addicts’ social skills are likely to be weaker and they can also suffer from hand and wrist pain, insufficient sleep and problems at school.
Another research conducted by Singapore General Hospital (The Straits Times, 2010) found that an approximate 9% of young people in Singapore are "pathological gamers" also known as addicts who spend hours playing video games, and whose schoolwork and social skills suffer as a result.
According to an addiction therapy service provider, Wilderness Programme, online games, especially the massive multi-online role-playing games also known as MMORPGs, allow players to behave very differently from their normal persona. A shy child can suddenly became gregarious; a passive child can become aggressive. Young people, who often feel powerless in their daily lives, suddenly have the ability to command armies, drive (and crash) cars, and wreak havoc on a virtual world with no real-life consequences. This is found to be seductive.
Some reaction symptoms from excessive gaming include falling asleep in school, falling behind with assignments, worsening grades, lying about the use computer or video game or maybe even dropping out of other social groups (clubs or sports). In addition, there are also physical symptoms which include carpal tunnel syndrome, sleep disturbances, backaches, neck aches or headaches and dry eyes.By understanding the characteristics of adolescents that make them susceptible to gaming and the reasons hindering them from taking control of their online gaming habits, we can formulate solutions that best tackles the problem from its roots.
Adolescents with excessive gaming may not be aware of their addiction, may even deny their problem or may not possess the willpower to end their addiction.Gaming addictions can affect ways of thinking, kill brain cells, deterioration of health due to long hours of sitting behind a desk. People game due to their social awkwardness so they use games to escape from the real world but later on the game becomes their life.
“We think that addiction to gaming is harmful to teens and will affect their learning in school because they might have restless nights because they think too much about their game even at night.”