Earlier this week, two class 10 students playing PUBG were run over by a train Mathura, UP. According to this news report their mobile phones were found at the accident site between Mathura Cantonment and Raya stations. While one of the devices was damaged, the other had the game running on it. This incident puts the spotlight around the health and safety risks around smartphone users who are so immersed in their screens that they shut out the world around them.
India also leads the world in fatal accidents in fatal accidents involving selfies. A study by Spanish iO Foundation revealed 379 people were killed between 2008 and 2021 while snapping high-risk selfies. 100 of these deaths occurred in India. India’s traditional reluctance to talk about mental health issues is also not helping the psychological effects of gaming. In 2018, the World Health Organisation (WHO) classified gaming disorder in their International Classification of Diseases – (ICD-11). We’re not recommending that you ditch your console or preferred gaming screen, just be mindful, aware and game responsibly:
Beat the flow: psychologists have tried to analyse the addictive nature of gaming. One of the interesting insights is a psychological phenomenon called the ‘flow’. This happens when you become so engrossed in an activity that you lose track of time. This can happen even when you’re immersed in that big client PPT deck or a college research project. While that’s okay as a one-off, the risk with gaming is this can turn into a compulsion that becomes difficult to control and starts to impact social relationships.
Manage the dopamine: this feel good chemical in our brain has been receiving a lot of attention in popular culture. It has it’s good side. Healthy levels of dopamine makes us feel good. We’re more motivated, productive, more social and extroverted. Researchers believe that too much dopamine can lead to conditions such as addictions, compulsive gambling and binge eating. Psychologists advise us to seek positive sources of dopamine, compulsive gaming is certainly not part of this mix.
Look for the signs: the American addiction Center lists out a quick ‘watch list’ that ensures you can prevent serious gaming addictions. Are you slipping at work or college because of your pre-occupation with gaming. Are you unable to set limits on your gaming schedules or using games as an escape route to escape stress. Are you also neglecting relationships or other interests because of gaming or lying to friends and family about the time you spend on your gaming console or smartphone?. Then it’s time you took stock
Be mindful of the physical effects: those images of people transfixed on their screens while walking on the road are no longer funny. It’s not just being mindful of your surroundings or physical environment but also the impact on your body. Xbox has a useful advisory that highlights the importance of a relaxed and comfortable body posture. If you’re using a smartphone try and reduce brightness levels and enable eye-comfort shields that reduce the blinding glare that can be harmful to your eyes over long periods. Be aware of physical forces that interact with your body. These may not be high impact forces like a car crash but low impact forces that you exert through movement. This can include a dynamic force, or a force that you exert through movement. For example, pressing buttons on a gaming controller. All these forces have the potential to cause musculoskeletal disorders. It’s a bit like getting stuck in front of your work laptop the whole day. The key is to take enough breaks, mix outdoor routines and sports with your passion for gaming on screens.