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Gaming addiction: What it is and how can you self-regulate?

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What is gaming addiction?

Gaming is undeniably a popular and widely-adopted mode of de-stressing, but how much is too much? In May 2019, the World Health Organisation officially recognised gaming addiction as a mental health condition. It is diagnosed when a person displays a gaming behaviour pattern that causes significant disruption to their daily life for a period of 12 months.

What leads to compulsive gaming behaviour?

• Prevalence and ease of access to games on various gaming platforms
• Video games often act as a form of escapism, allowing players to throw themselves into a virtual landscape that is contrasted from their mundane everyday lives
• Games serve as a distractor from real-life problems that players are unconfident or reluctant to face

Excessive gaming

Excessive gaming can have consequences for the individual, and also the people in his/ her social circle. Some of these adverse effects include:
• Obsessive behaviour
• Increased social isolation
• Other mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety
• Other physical health conditions such as carpal tunnel syndrome, migraine, backaches or eye strain

Facing your addiction

It is significantly easier to curb gaming addiction the earlier we try to tackle it. What we want to advocate for is moderation, rather than complete avoidance - try to keep the amont of time spent gaming under control by setting time limits for play and stick to them. If possible, reduce your playtime gradually by setting a timer on your phone, or use softwares to help you block access to websites or applications.

Get support

Facing your addiction alone can be a daunting and lonely experience. If it comforts you, try joining peer support groups or online communities where like-minded people are going through the same experiences.
Don't be afraid to go for professional help for addiction treatment like counselling or psychotherapy if things get tough. Choosing to struggle alone is not a sensible option.

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