GAMING AND HEALTH
4th October, 2021 Health
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- Gaming disorder increases during pandemic.
- A 2019 survey by the U.S.-based Limelight Networks found that India had the second largest number of gamers after South Korea.
- The World Health Organization categorised gaming disorder as a mental health condition in 2018, but as the pandemic increased screen time across age groups, concerns have been growing.
- According to the All India Gaming Federation, India’s online gaming industry is expected to be worth Rs 15,500 crore by 2023.
Impact of gaming on health
- Research shows that gaming disorders can also be linked with anxiety, depression, obesity, sleeping disorders, and stress.
- People who remain physically inactive for long periods because of gaming may also be at higher risk of obesity, sleep disorders, and other health-related issues, according to WHO.
- While time spent online is still not as high as in other countries, almost a quarter of adult Indian gamers had missed work while playing games during this pandemic.
- Gaming addictions cause physical, social and emotional damages, impairing sleep, appetites, careers and social lives.
Steps being taken
- Last month, China limited gamers under 18 years to just three hours of online games per week, during specified times, and made the industry responsible for enforcing the restriction.
- In India, legal focus has been on recent laws in the southern States seeking to ban online games such as rummy, poker or even fantasy sports which offer prize money or financial stakes.
- Recently, Kerala High Court quashed such a law in the State, accepting the industry’s stance that, as games of skill rather than chance, they should not trigger bans on gambling.
- However, worried parents, psychiatrists and mental health advocates warn that the dangers go well beyond monetary motivations.
- An advisory by Rajasthan government warned parents and teachers to look out for abnormal behaviour in children to detect and prevent addiction to online gaming.
- Psychiatrists recommend that as a bare minimum, statutory warnings and mandatory breaks should be enforced to prevent binge gaming.
- It’s time to take policy measures limiting availability of video games (e.g., shutdown policy, fatigue system, and parental controls), (ii) measures aiming to reduce risk and harm (e.g., warning messages), and (iii) measures taken to provide help services for gamers.