Computer game addiction alarming among youths

Addiction to online games among Thai youths is rising alarmingly with latest survey showing almost 3 million youths have been addicted, thus prompting parental worry about their kids’ health and behavior.

The revelation was made at the “Thai Children and IT” event at the Thailand Game Show festival held from October 18-20 at Siam Paragon.

Associate Professor Chanvit Pornnoppadol of the Faculty of Medicine Siriraj Hospital said the Department of Mental Health in cooperation with provincial cultural offices has conducted a survey through interviewing  more than 20,000 youths nationwide from March to June this year.

The result showed that 15% of the youths had addicted to online games, 15% playing  Facebook and  Line.

If this statistics  was used to apply with the 18 million youths now in the country, it would mean that now over 2.7 million youths were addicted to online games.

The researcher said that this was a very high and alarming figure of youth addition to computer games.

But what was much worried about was the change of behavior of the addicted youths, he said.

He said that addicted youths would turn more aggressive, more violent to the degree that they might even assault their parents, attempting to commit suicides if they were told or ordered by their parents to stop playing.

Moreover game addicted youths would avoid other commitments in order to be with the computer, either wagging school, refusing to sleep at night.

He said game addicted youths also having school grades dropping, stopping participation in other activities and having unstable emotions.

Such change of behavior indicated that they were heavily addicted and needed treatment. At present only about 30-40 youths a year came to hospitals for treatment which was minimal.

A reason that very few addicted youths came to see doctors was that their parents did not where to take their children for treatment.

Treating game addicted youths would take time same as treating a drug addict, he said which need to eradicate poison from the body of a drug addict in the primary stage of treatment.

For  IT addicts, this will need to wash  all IT impression  from their  minds and start diagnosing their good and bad parts, and then bringing  out the good and outstanding point to promote.

He said that the department is promoting family-care method to cure the patients as it was considered to be achievable.

Associate Professor Chanvit said further that at present a head bending culture  and  mindless staring at the mobile phone screens without looking up to others was rampant  on the streets, public places or on transportation.

This was a symptom of which a person has committed his or her life too much on  the IT technology just like having a 33rd organ.

He added that the advantage of IT was undeniable, but what parents deemed unacceptable was that youths could not differentiate between good and bad.

Therefore, it was  a matter that more attractive activities should be organized to divert  their attention from the computer screens to other useful and encouraging activities, he said.

Dr Chanvig works for the Department of Psychiatry, the Faculty of Medicine at Siriraj Hospital.