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Internet Gaming Disorder (IGD) is a mental health issue that’s becoming more common, and it can have a major impact on your wellbeing. If you’re gaming until it feels like your eyes are bleeding – whether that’s in endless FPS matches or a just-one-more-hour-of-grinding-before-bed MMORPG, you could be at risk.
There are six criteria that researchers look for when diagnosing the condition:
- Frequent preoccupation or obsession with internet gaming,
- Progressively higher doses of gaming to achieve the same outcome,
- Using gaming to modify mood or feelings,
- Conflict with others due to dysfunction in the gamer’s other roles,
- Failing in attempts to curb or stop gaming, and
- Withdrawal symptoms when not gaming online.
“Anyone who presents with all six of these characteristics gets a diagnosis but if some do not present with all six and present with some of them, we tend to think that they are at high risk of Internet Gaming Disorder,” says researcher Dr Vasileois Stavropoulos.
“What makes people addicted to the use of online games has been found to be mainly the online socialisation aspect, so they get in contact with other gamers. It’s what we call internet paradox because this medium, which has been designed to advance communication between individuals, ends up making them more isolated in real life.”
If this feels like you, it’s time to take steps to reduce your screen time. You don’t have to go cold turkey on those raids, but set yourself an alarm and take a break every hour. Go for a walk or do something else that’s physically active.
Think about getting into another hobby that helps you interact with people in real life – tabletop boardgames and sport are both good options that keep the competitive element but add another, more healthy element.