Internet Gaming Disorder (IGD) is a condition where one plays excessive Internet games and can get addicted to it. There have been such cases wherein we have diagnosed individuals with IGD, which is included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Since the criteria for diagnosis of addiction are presently under study, it will be worthwhile to see how you reply to the following questions. The answers can be in yes, often; no or sometimes.
- Are you overwhelmingly preoccupied with Internet games like Pokémon Go?
- Do you feel irritated, anxious or sad when you are unable to play your favourite Internet game?
- Do you play for longer time to get same amount of enjoyment and exhilaration you got last time?
- Do you fail to control yourself from playing for long hours?
- Has playing video game led to a significant loss of interest in other activities?
- Despite knowing the ill-effects of playing excessive Internet games, do you still continue to play?
- Have you ever lied to another person regarding the amount of time you spend on playing Internet games?
- Do you often play Internet games to escape or relieve stress or bad mood?
- Have you ever skipped an important task/job/educational opportunity to play game?
If your answer to more than 50% of the questions is yes, often, then it is a matter of concern and it is recommended to visit a specialist. Those who play Internet games excessively are likely to suffer from common health problems like headaches, watering eyes, cramping of fingers, digestive and sleep problems.
However, studies have shown that playing some Internet games help in improving memory, hand-eye coordination and attention. While violent games can desensitise children and have dangerous repercussions, certain educational games are useful.
Newspapers report many incidences of reckless behaviour associated with Pokémon Go, which can range from being funny to bizarre. So, next time you are crossing the road to catch your Pokémon, take a minute to think if it’s just a game or an addiction for you.
The author is a consultant psychiatrist at SL Raheja Fortis Hospital in Mahim