Up Close With Dr. E: Internet Gaming Disorder | News
Keep your nose on the grindstone, your shoulder on the wheel and your eyes on the ball. Above all, don’t blink, because if you do, the world could disappear. Every day, the world as we know it is being reshaped by the hands of technology.
Each of the following changes has an electronic signature:
Work – the workplace is now a place of residence.
School – The chalk and blackboard eclipsed by iPads, laptops and distance learning.
Healthcare – The bedside way becomes telemedicine.
Leisure – Fishing rods and campfires give way to online gaming with dazzling virtual worlds powered by Xbox, Nintendo and PlayStation.
Keeping up with these changes is difficult. How about raising kids? How can parents preserve and protect childhood innocence in the face of electronic dangers?
Today’s article is about an emerging disorder called Internet Gaming Disorder, or IGD. By educating yourself about IGD, you are in a better position to protect your children, and yourself, from this new breed of non-drug or behavioral addiction.
Today’s article begins with Joshua, a boy who makes the switch from computer games to competitive team-based online games. As you read about Joshua, see if you can detect these elements of addiction:
Concern with daily used game drives.
As usage increases, tolerance occurs, pushing usage to five to 10 hours a day.
Pass hobby and non-gaming friends are deleted.
Despite prejudice – falling grades, loss of sleep, parental arguments – the game continues.
Deception and lies on excessive games installed.
If a parent deletes all games, withdrawal symptoms – anger, irritability and anxiety occur.
The game becomes a escape life problems, as well as a powerful social network.
Portrait of a player:
Meet Joshua, 5-foot-10, 140 pounds, rail-thin, curly brown hair and a photogenic smile. This is him at 17. Let’s go back to when he was 6 years old.
Born in St. Louis, whose father, Michael, is a computer engineer, his mother, Denise, is a second-grade teacher. He has two older sisters. Covered by his sisters, Josh retired to his room to practice his passion: the trumpet. On its walls hung posters of iconic trumpeters: Louis Armstrong, Charlie Parker and Miles Davis. Under the musical wing of his mother (she played the piano), he started private lessons.
At age 10, he became the first president of the school orchestra. At age 12, he was hired to play in a pit orchestra for musicals such as “Cats” and “Hamilton.” But at 13, her world fell apart when her parents divorced. He moved with his mother to Indiana, where she took a teaching job. His sisters were in college, so Josh found himself on his own. He started school, played in the marching band, but didn’t make any friends.
The only contact with his father was online, where they played car racing games and Minecraft. On his 16th birthday, his father bought him two expensive gaming systems. Josh entered the world of competitive team play on the Internet.
At 17, Josh had two passions: his girlfriend Natalie and Internet gaming. Natalie liked to play, so on the weekends they played 6-10 hours straight. He coined a gamer name, “Phantom Four”, which he earned through his gaming skill of sneaking into enemy territory undetected.
The relationship with his mother has changed dramatically. Daily arguments erupted easily, “Josh, get up for school, you’re late,” “Josh, school called, you’re failing algebra,” and “Why did you lie to me about to leave the group?
Josh dumped his girlfriend and cut off all contact with his father. Desperate to help her son, Denise pulled out her game systems. Josh went crazy, “I need them now! I promise to only play on weekends. For the next three days, Josh was restless, hostile and depressed.
After Denise made him sign a contract that said he would limit his games to 10 hours a week, she returned his games. Two weeks later, at 2 a.m. on a Sunday morning, she listened to her door.
“It’s game time guys!” It’s Phantom Four and I have cheat codes for extra ammo. It’s Call of Duty time!”
“Slayer-six online (Steve from LA).”
“Dead Mel Ready (Mel from Sydney Australia).”
“I’m fine,” Brit-kill (Shawn from London) replied.
As Denise listened, she was appalled at the kinship the four boys had forged. “My God,” she thought, “it’s like they are a family.” She sighed: “Have I lost my son?
Questions and answers:
Q1: Is IGD a formal disorder in the United States? Not yet. It is listed in the DSM 5 (the psychiatric diagnostic manual) as an emerging condition under investigation. In China, IGD is a bona fide diagnosis with specific treatment.
Q2: Is IGD common? An Asian study revealed that IGD occurs in 8.4% of men and 4.5% of women, in the age group of 15 to 19 years.
Q3: Dr E, you described IGD as electronic moonshine, like alcohol or cocaine. How could a non-drug addiction wield such power? Neuroscience, the study of how the brain works, has discovered a mechanism common to all addictions, whether it’s drugs, sex, food, gambling or IGD. IGD’s ability to hijack Joshua’s life is due to two specific characteristics of internet gaming: the thrill of the game ignites the pleasure/reward center of the brain and creates bonds of loyalty between players on the team.
Q4: As a parent, how do I protect my children from gambling problems? Set firm time limits for games. Do not allow binge eating – 10 hours of continuous play – allow two hours of play per day, with one non-play day per week. If there is a problem, collect all electronic equipment at bedtime. If necessary, use a computer monitoring program to monitor all aspects of your child’s electronic use.
Conclusion: Keep your nose on the laptop, your hand on the mouse, and your eyes on the screen. Above all, don’t worry if you blink. If you do, the electronic world is stored above your head in a celestial blue mist called “the cloud.”
(The content of this article is for educational purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for professional treatment. The characters in this story are not real. Names and details have been changed to protect confidentiality. )