Entertainment or addiction? I am campaigning in Turkey

Games are educational tools for a child’s mental and social development, and they’re fun tools that help adults get away from the stresses of everyday life. Games that allow us to use the rich content of our imagination; it makes learning through discovery, excitement, relationship building, reward and fun.

As a child, our only job is to play games. It is through play that we get to know each other, discover the outside world and social relationships. Just like children, adults can learn through play and make their knowledge more permanent and useful.

games mentally; establish cause and effect relationships, reasoning and creativity, emotionally; the pleasure that comes with excitement and rewards, socially; belonging to a team, respect, self-confidence, behavioral aspects; are useful activities that promote the acquisition of new knowledge and skills.

In our traditional game formats, there was a shared space and players were side by side. The game changed shape with the computers and arcades that came into our lives in the 1970s. A digital game world was created, in which a person can create himself as he wishes and have more than the world in which she lives, without establishing social relations.

At the beginning of digital games, the interest was not so high. The children grew up with their extended family and friends and could spend time freely on the streets. The need for security, increased with the concentration of the population in large cities, pushes families to live in their own shell and to individuality. Game makers have created rich content using their knowledge of psychology. They have reached billions of users by creating the game world where people can freely show their aggression and pleasure-oriented psychological needs. Today they have become a huge industry with a million dollar budget.

Children and teenagers between the ages of 10 and 14 show the greatest interest in digital games. 15% of gamers become addicted to the game with abnormal use. In 2019, the World Health Organization recognized gambling addiction as a disease requiring treatment.

Why do we connect to games?

Digital games distract us from the boredom of life and the feeling of loneliness. It gives a chance to be part of popular culture, fulfills the need for success and reward, and wards off domestic strife. It gives the opportunity to do illegal things that cannot be done in real life. It feeds aggressive emotions and makes them feel powerful. The hormones released by these experiences create a desire to play more games.

What are the harms of gambling addiction?

Those who play addictive digital games; becomes depressed, anxious, obsessive and angry. It leads to loneliness and weakening of social relationships. Aggression and low life satisfaction are observed in violent games. Being in the game for a long time also poses a great risk of physical illnesses such as insomnia and nutrition.

How do you know the extent of the danger?

Not all gamers are addicted to the game. Spending a lot of time in the game, thinking about the game even outside of the game, a strong desire to return to the game, feeling nervous and restless when not playing the game are player health hazard signals. You should definitely get support from people with addiction expertise.

How to prevent gambling addiction?

The average age of people who show interest in gambling and are affected by its negative consequences is very young. For this reason, parents have a responsibility in gambling addiction. It should not be ignored that a child or a high school student is always in front of the computer in his room. It is necessary to find out what he wanted in his life and could not find and what he caught in these games. Children and young people should be encouraged to engage in activities and relationships that will strengthen their social bonds. Unfortunately, in our country, raising good children is associated with academic success. Every investment in families should bring academic or social status. While raising their children, they are not informed about daily life skills such as ecological sensitivity, productivity, farming, saving, outdoor sports and household chores. They are in the deactivated position in these areas. Since they don’t have jobs and professions to show their potential, the likelihood of them moving towards digital games increases. We have to make them proactive in life.

We all, individually and socially, have a duty to create environments that develop the capacities of our children and young people. Only then can we achieve inclusive and sustainable improvement in public health protection.

Nazare Uzer

Occupational psychologist

This article first appeared in the 115th issue of Campaign Türkiye.

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