Tue, Jul 16, 2019 - Page 4 News List

Doctor provides tips to detect gaming disorder

YOUTH SUBCULTURE:Addiction is not defined by the amount of time a child spends online, but rather by its effects on daily life, such as study or sleep, a doctor said

By Huang Hsu-lei and William Hetherington  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

High-school students attend a social activity on a commuter train in Kaohsiung on June 16.

Photo: Huang Hsu-lei, Taipei Times

A Taipei psychiatrist has provided tips for parents to help determine whether their child’s mobile phone and computer usage amounts to addiction.

With the growing popularity of smartphones and mobile games, more attention is being paid to the issue of phone and Internet addiction.

The WHO on May 25 listed “gaming disorder” as a psychological illness in the International Classification of Diseases.

It defined gaming disorder as “a pattern of gaming behavior (digital gaming or video gaming) characterized by impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming over other activities to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities, and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.”

Psychiatrist Lin Yi-hsuan (林奕萱) from Yuan’s General Hospital said that the negative consequences could include a lack of face-to-face interaction with other people, or inability to focus on studies or work.

“A normal lifestyle involves time in the sun, fresh air and involvement in social activities. A child being fully absorbed in the Internet for too long might be an issue that needs help,” she said.

However, it is important for parents to understand that addiction is not defined by the amount of time a child uses the Internet or plays video games, Lin said.

Parents must see whether the child’s normal daily activities are being affected by their Internet use, or, for example, whether they are unable to pull themselves away from electronic devices to study or sleep, she added.

“For example, some engineers or journalists spend tremendous amounts of time in front of a computer, but they are not addicted,” Lin said.

People who are addicted to mobile devices might experience conditions such as loneliness or depression, inability to focus on tasks or poor sleep quality, she said, adding that doctors can treat the addiction and alleviate the associated conditions.

The hospital urged young people to participate in social activities, such as playing in a band, to balance their time on the Internet.

It advised parents not to completely cut children off from the Internet, as this could have developmental repercussions.

It is better to understand Internet use and mobile gaming as part of youth subculture, it added.

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