15-year old boy being treated for PUBG addiction, how big of a problem is it?
PUBG Mobile is taking the country by storm. The game that was ported over from PC to Android and iOS devices by Tencent, has been downloaded over 50 million times since its release in December last year. The game’s popularity is tangibly visible as well. Everytime I log in to PUBG using my Facebook account, I can see anywhere between 15-20 people online at any given time of the day, even late at night. The premise is simple. You are one among 100 who parachutes down to a island scattered with weapons and other equipment. Once you land, you scramble for weapons and then kill everyone else in an ever shrinking map to be the last man standing. The game can be played solo, with two players and with a four-member team. Essentially, PUGG Mobile is the big push mobile gaming has been waiting for, but is there more to the excitement?
Hindustan Times reported yesterday that a 15-year old boy is currently undergoing treatment for PUBG addiction. The boy would play till late at night and started missing school. He would have over 10,000 friends online and only a handful of them in the real world. The problem worsened when the boy was unwilling to recognise it as an issue.
In fact, the World Health Organisation recognised gaming as a disorder in the International Classification of Diseases. The symptoms are actually quite common. Increased priority to gaming over other activities, and continuation of gaming despite negative consequences. In the case of the 15-year old boy studying in the 10th standard, all these symptoms were present.
The proliferation of the internet-based services has given rise to habits like browsing social media feeds like a zombie without paying attention to what you’re seeing and compulsively launching the app to check what’s new. There’s binge watching as well that is a highly celebrated disorder. In fact, I was compulsively encouraged by my peers to binge-watch the eight episodes of Netflix’s Hindi Original series Sacred Games, which I eventually succumbed to over the weekend. That’s eight hours of screen time without interruption.
According to a report published by The Independentearlier this year, an addiction therapist said “giving your child a smartphone is like giving them a gram of cocaine.” Essentially, spending time on Snapchat and Instagram is being considered to be just as addictive as drugs and alcohol and therapists are encouraging parents and school teachers to be treated as such.