This year the World Health Organisation (WHO) Gaming Disorder, of which problematic internet gaming comes under. Gaming Disorder is defined as having patterns of problematic gaming behaviour for at least 12 months, where there has been an increased priority given to gaming at the cost of other interests and daily activities. The behaviour also needs to cause significant impairment to daily functioning, such as interfering significantly with one’s work, relationships and school. Such disruption could lead to jobs lost, or significant warnings for performance. This may seem like drastic definitions, however in a recent study from Finland, where they reviewed 50 studies on internet gaming, correlations between problematic gaming behaviour and depression, anxiety, OCD and somatisation were found. With increasing advances in technology and new games invented and being downloaded everyday, gaming disorder, whether accepted as a clinical diagnosis or as part of the landscape we live in, is here.
One significant impact internet gaming can have is on the quality of sleep. Unlike a tennis match with a limited pool of players, within your time zones, who have a limited physical capacity to keep going, internet gaming is boundary-less. It is difficult to identify clear finish times, and to manage gaming relationships. Sleep is impacted when it is difficult to wind down and “finish”. Particularly if time zones mean that you could be disadvantaged if you stop while other players keep going. The temptation to load up on caffeine, push through natural sleep and tired cues impacts sleep. Conflict in gaming relationships can be toxic. What gets said in chat forms behind a screen can lack the civilities and appropriate courtesies than what is considered sporting behaviour. This too can keep you awake. We also know that flickering lights and blue light from screens impact sleep negatively.
If you are wondering where to go for help, speaking to a trained professional to help with problematic internet gaming behaviour, and therefore improve quality of sleep would be a helpful first step.
Valerie Ling, MClin Psych, BA(Hons), MAPS, Clinical Psychologist has a passion for helping people find their voice and continue to write their life’s story. Committed to prevent burnout and empowering individuals to life an effective life, she is the Director and Founder of The Centre For Effective Living.