Recently media here and abroad have been reporting the dangers of too much online gaming, with concerns ranging from sore thumbs to poor school results but especially the toll on mental health.
The World Health Organisation has now included gaming addiction as a disorder in its draft of the 2018 International Classification of Diseases. The idea that it is a medical issue seems difficult to comprehend for those over 30. Older citizens of course have their own “time-wasters” – crosswords, card games, sudoko – but these are not talked of as being addictive.
Many young people spend much of their time online with friends they have never met (Facebook), cute cats (YouTube) and photos that don’t seem real (Instagram). This only becomes an issue when they can’t stop.
A medically defined Internet addiction needs to be treated in the way of most addictions, which includes recognising the problem, stopping the action, finding the underlying cause and repairing relationships with family and friends. This is far more difficult than just switching off the device.
There needs to be an emphasis on a better use of time – study, sport and volunteering would be better options for themselves and others. There also needs to be some control over the inclusion of game components designed to get young people playing and keeping them playing.
Turn off, go outside and get some sunlight – it’s actually nice.