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How to tell if you are addicted to gaming and how to get help Updated: 2019-08-14 07:06:19 KST

It's time for our "Life & Info" segment, where we take a look at useful information for your daily life.
Over the last few months, gaming addiction has been a hot topic of debate all over the world after the WHO classified it as a mental disorder.
Here in Korea, where online gaming is a popular pastime not just for children and teenagers but also adults, gaming addiction has already been recognized as a growing problem.

Our Oh Soo-young joins us to discuss the various ways you can prevent or curb unhealthy gaming habits.
So Sooyoung. where do we draw the line between enjoying online games and becoming addicted?

Well, Mark, there are various guidelines out there, including the WHO's standards of gaming addiction , which include lacking control over gaming habits which seriously impact your personal and professional life.
South Korean health professionals have been using the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders or DSM-5, which lists the following as key symptoms: preoccupation with gaming; withdrawal symptoms such as feeling sadness, anxiety or irritability when you're unable to play online games; inability to control yourself; giving up other activities; and deceiving family members or others about the amount of the time you spend on gaming.
This could lead to risking or jeopardizing your responsibilities or your relationships due to gaming.
So if five or more of these symptoms occur within a year, you're considered addicted.

But there's the chicken or the egg dilemma. Do you develop a gaming addiction or are you predisposed to it, depending on your mental health?

There's definitely a huge amount of debate on that question but mental health professionals say what's certain is that just like any other substance or behavioral addiction, it develops as you start depending on it.
And, naturally, you'd be more inclined to grow dependent or over indulge in any substance or activity, if you have a weak sense of judgment and self-control. That's why teenagers and children, and college students who have moved out of their homes for the first time are particularly vulnerable.

"It's like developing a drinking problem. When you're alone and feeling bored and you find yourself in a better mood after gaming, it's easier to form unhealthy habits. We can't say gaming directly causes addiction but games that have a speculative nature, in particular, make it easier to overly indulge. So this could cause problems for those who are psychologically unstable, or children and teenagers, without proper guidance or supervision."

So if you have developed a gaming addiction, how do you overcome it?

The first step you should take is to consult with a health professional at your local hospital or, there are some specialized clinics available for gaming addiction in Seoul and other parts of the country as you can see on the map.
If you are diagnosed with gaming addiction, they offer counselling as well as diverse forms of therapy including art therapy, music therapy and even theater therapy.
For schoolchildren, in particular, the government has been running camps for gaming and smartphone addiction which I introduced in one of my reports this week.
Teens go through up to four weeks of rehab, in a special recovery center located in Muju County, Jeollanam-do Province.
So as you can see, there are various options here available in South Korea but critical factors for recovery is setting time limits on gaming and regaining control over your urges, and also having a strong support network.

"It takes time to develop an addiction and it takes just as much time to recover. Recovery takes repeated efforts so you need someone to hold your hand and encourage you. That's why you need support from loved ones, therapeutic activities and psychological support well as help on managing time and gaining self-awareness."

Battling addiction is hard and takes continued efforts, but it can be done. If you believe you have developed unhealthy gaming habits, remember you're not alone. We encourage you to consult a health professional to get the proper support and treatment that you need.
Thank you for coming in today, Sooyoung.
Reporter : osy@arirang.com
KOGL : Korea Open Government License
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