With PUBG or without PUBG

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After a 14-year-old gaming junkie killed his family in Lahore last month, the popular mobile game PUBG (Player Unknown’s Battlegrounds) is once again facing requests to be banned. According to police, the adolescent became hostile after failing to meet the game’s objectives. They claim he opened fire on his mother and three siblings while under the influence of the game, killing them all instantly.
PUBG was previously temporarily banned in Pakistan, with police requesting that internet service providers block the game after three teen suicides were linked to it.
The link between video games and violence, on the other hand, is not so straightforward. It’s a classic case of the chicken-and-egg dilemma. Is it video games that make teenagers violent? Or are maladjusted people seeking refuge in the virtual world of video games?
The World Health Organization (WHO) recognized “gaming disorder” as a mental health condition in 2019 that occurs when gaming interferes with people’s daily lives or takes precedence over other interests and activities, causing impairments in their familial relationships, social lives, and other areas.
Excessive usage of social media apps like TikTok, as well as video games, has been connected to an increase in suicides and mental health difficulties among teenagers. Local governments may find that temporarily banning them is the most expedient choice, but this is merely a band-aid approach, as it will not treat the pathology that caused a user to seek these options in the first place. If one outlet to escape their home’s unpleasant environment is barred, a person may seek solace in drugs, vandalism, or other thrill-seeking activity.
A recent homicide by a gamer has ignited debate about whether video games are promoting young crime or scapegoating them. According to reports, the youngster involved in the Lahore homicide believed his family members would return or spawn again after he shot them, similar to how characters in video games resurrect or spawn after being eliminated. This could be a case of Game Transfer Phenomena (GTP), which is defined as the transfer of virtual to physical experiences that can emerge as altered sensorial perceptions, sensations, automatic thought processes, behaviors, and actions when playing video games. This effect is more likely as a result of immersive gaming experiences that include augmented/ virtual reality.
Regular video-gamers began to spend more time playing games during the epidemic, and GTP was found in several of them. A mother brought her 25-year-old son to the mental facility where I work after he began having temper tantrums and was physically hostile with the family after playing Fortnite all night for a couple of months.
Her kid, she suspected, had internalized the character of the hero in the game and was unable to break free in real life. While conversing with others, gamers have claimed seeing health bars or ‘answer-choice’ menus. Another common occurrence is “earworms,” which occur when the game’s music or noises become stuck in your mind.
What triggers the brain’s addiction to video games? In response to a pleasurable event or hyper-arousal, the brain’s “reward center” produces dopamine, a neurotransmitter. When someone is hyper aroused when playing video games, the brain builds a link between that activity and dopamine. When the person repeats the exercise, they will experience a dopaminergic rush.
Dopamine is linked to reward-seeking behavior, which explains why it can be difficult for people to leave a place or behavior that provides them a dopamine rush. It also reinforces itself. The more times a person engages in a behavior, the more dopamine is released, and the more motivated they are to repeat it.
Video game disorders (a subset of behavioral addictions) and substance use disorders share identical brain processes, according to research. The amount of dopamine released in the ventral striatum when playing a competitive video game has been found to be comparable to that caused by psycho-stimulant medicines.
In the previous two years, many students have exclusively “hung out” with their classmates in the digital domain, either through social media or video games, due to COVID-related social limitations. The pandemic has forced us to abandon the traditional educational system, which includes large school campuses, playgrounds, and sports.
“Our world has shrunk to the size of our monitors. Due to health concerns, we do not allow our children to play with their peers outside of the house; instead, we encourage them to enjoy themselves indoors by playing video games on their devices. We should put a stop to these games or provide youngsters with an alternative.
“If parents notice any warning signs, they should seek help from a mental health expert as soon as possible.” However, we cannot deny that our modern lives are inextricably linked to the digital world. Breaking this link could lead to a decline in mental health and an increase in loneliness.
Certain people are more inclined than others to become addicted to video games or to play them excessively. This type of behavioral addiction develops as a maladaptive coping mechanism in response to an individual’s attempt to avoid or escape an external stressor.
Domestic violence, a dysfunctional parenting style, and substance misuse are all common signs among children who display violent behavior at home. Disruptive behavior problems in children and teenagers include oppositional defiant disorder and conduct disorder. Irritable mood, temper outbursts, anger, and defiance are all traits they share.
Such disorders frequently go misdiagnosed and untreated because parents feel that prohibiting their children from playing video games or allowing them to interact with their peers will solve their problems.
“In many cases of gaming addiction, there are other co-existing psychological conditions, such as depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive disorder, social anxiety, etc.”