Don't play around with gaming addiction

The report that the World Health Organisation (WHO) will define gaming disorder as a disease later this year needs to be highlighted (WHO to define gaming disorder as disease; Jan 6).

In my medical practice, I have seen individuals who spend whole nights gaming and are not able to attend school or go to work in the day.

Students see their grades suffer, and those with this addiction behave in an incoherent manner.

I have encountered incidents of students assaulting their parents when they are denied the use of their computer or mobile phone for their gaming habit, and those who throw tantrums and destroy things at home when their privileges are curtailed.

The problem also affects adults, who cannot hold on to a job because of this addiction.

Such individuals need help, counselling and even medical treatment.

The negative consequences affect families and, ultimately, society.

The content of the games also matters.

Children exposed to violence continually may feel that this is a norm in society. Adults exposed to similar content and distorted content, such as pornography, also may develop unwholesome views of sex and associate sex with violence.

Perhaps, the current problem of sexual harassment and violence has its root in exposure and addiction to such material. Education may not be the only answer, as we are seeing more seemingly educated individuals, who present a decent front, caught in sexual crimes and misbehaviour.

Studies showing that children who are not taught to exercise self-control when they are young grow up to be social misfits and even criminals.

We need to confront this addiction at its root and not take it lightly.

Quek Koh Choon (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 08, 2018, with the headline 'Don't play around with gaming addiction'. Print Edition | Subscribe