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Evolving Trends Of Social Media And How It Impacts Youth

Evolving Trends Of Social Media And How It Impacts Youth

Social media trends.
Social media trends are constantly evolving in today’s information age.
Generation Z (individuals who are born between 1997 and 2012) are considered to be digital natives where they are surrounded by vast technological advances since birth (Seymour, 2019). In contrast to other generations like the Millennials (those born between 1981 to 1996) and Generation X (those born between 1965 to 1980), Generation Z grew up with social media, smartphones and rapid information sharing (Seymour, 2019).
There are many different types of social media and some examples include social networking sites, dating apps, gaming apps, blogging or vlogging platforms. Globally, the top ten most used social media platforms are Facebook, YouTube, Facebook Messenger, Instagram, WhatsApp, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Snapchat and Skype (Global Web Index, 2020). One of the latest additions includes TikTok, an app that comprises short entertaining videos created and enjoyed by younger users.

Impacts on youths

Given the increasing popularity of social media in recent years, it is undeniable that social media plays an important role in our society today. Social media provides a new lens for people to exchange information and interact with others. As youths enjoy their social connections with peers on social media platforms, the increased use of social media will likely pose a risk to their mental health and well being where they will feel anxious, depressed, lonely and the fear of missing out (FOMO) (Robinson & Smith, 2020). Youths also tend to compare their realities with other people’s best moments in which depicts an inaccurate representation of a person’s overall life (Robinson & Smith, 2020). Besides, youth may experience cyberbullying from others on social media platforms. As a result, youths will likely experience low self-esteem and psychological distress, anxiety or depressive symptoms.

Helping youths

Parents and teachers can assist youths by emphasising their youths’ values and strengths in relation to the different aspects of their lives in order to help them navigate the labyrinth of social media platforms. In addition, parents and teachers can focus on recognising signs which youths may exhibit when they are victims of cyberbullying such as social withdrawal, changes in mood and avoidance towards discussing their online interactions with others. Youths can also be encouraged by parents and teachers to seek counselling support if they find it difficult to manage unpleasant feelings related to their social media use. Please make an appointment to speak with one of our health professionals (a psychologist or counsellor) should youths require counselling support. 

Reference
Seymour, E. (2019, August 25). Gen Z: Born to be digital. VOA News, Retrived from: https://www.voanews.com/student-union/gen-z-born-be-digital
Robinson, L., & Smith, M. (2020, September). Social media and mental health. Help Guide, Retrieved from https://www.helpguide.org/articles/mental-health/social-media-and-mental-health.htm
Global Web Index (2020). Report: social media marketing trends. Global Web Index, Retrieved from: https://www.globalwebindex.com/reports/social
Discipline: What Parents Get Wrong, and How to Get It Right

Discipline: What Parents Get Wrong, and How to Get It Right

Spare the rod and spoil the child – is this a sensible justification for the use of physical punishment in disciplining a child? What is discipline really all about? To some parents, discipline is associated with corporal punishment, such as by caning, slapping or spanking. In extreme cases, it may include forcing hot sauce into a child’s mouth as punishment for swearing. Sometimes, it becomes difficult to draw the line between reasonable corporal punishment and physical abuse. 

Not many parents will admit that they cane or spank their kids. But a survey conducted by an international research agency YouGov found that close to 80 percent of parents in Singapore adopted such physical means of punishment. Does caning still have a place in modern-day parenting? In some way or another, we are all shaped by different life experiences, cultures and familial backgrounds. It shouldn’t be a surprise that we each possess differing opinions and perceptions. Some of these parents themselves may have been parented under strict and harsh supervision, where they had grown accustomed to physical forms of discipline and do not view them to be problematic. However, there is an increasing need to recognise that the act of disciplining children can take on many other forms. While we do not have the right to correct your teaching methods, we hope to convince you, as well as other parents out there, that corporal punishment is not the only mean to teach a child good behaviour. 

Why Corporal Punishment Isn’t The Best

We acknowledge that parenting isn’t easy. When your toddler “accidentally” smashes that one precious family heirloom, or when your underaged teenager gets caught for drinking, you might fly into a rage and rush to pick up the cane. However, corporal punishment has been proven to be ineffective and potentially harmful. It may serve its purpose of an immediate response to an undesirable behaviour and to curb it temporarily, but it will leave a long-lasting psychological mark on your child. As published in numerous research journals, physical punishment may bring about more harm than good. Let’s break it down:

  • Deteriorating Relationships
    Consider the message that you’re sending your child as you’re hitting him. While you may think nothing of it in a fit of anger, your child may – whether subconsciously or not – internalise that he is unworthy of love, or that he is worthless. Over time, this will also strain your relationship with your child.

  • Increasing Your Child’s Susceptibility to Mental Disorders
    Physical aggression often ties in with psychological aggression. At the end of it all, your child may develop a flawed belief that using violence to achieve desired results is completely acceptable. Not only does corporal punishment increase a child’s aggression, it may also lead to antisocial behaviour, as well as other mental health disorders. Long-term use of violence against a growing child can lead to the development of depression, anxiety, personality disorders, as well as intellectual disabilities. In particular, it may also cause a downward spiral of your child’s self-esteem.

  • Failing to Induce the Desired Behavioural Change
    Corporal punishment does not develop compliant behaviour, it simply stops undesirable behaviour temporarily. This may give parents a false sense of security, and trap them into thinking that they’ve successfully steered their children away from unwanted behaviours. However, the reality is that children may only stop immediately for the fear of being punished further. There is always a chance for such behaviours to return. Assuming your teenager picks up a bad habit but is afraid of being punished, she may instead resort to various means of hiding it from you. As you can see, the unwanted behaviour isn’t eradicated at all.

 

By now, you’re probably curious about how you can encourage behavioural change more effectively without physical punishment. Here, we’ll share some useful tips in regards to educating your child the right behaviour. 

When your child misbehaves, you can consider withholding or removing certain privileges from him. This is certainly less harmful psychologically and physically as opposed to spanking him. For example, if your child leaves his toys lying all over the bedroom floor, you can opt to confiscate them for a day or two. Do note that this will be particularly effective if the consequence is directly linked to the unwanted behaviour. In this case, it wouldn’t be ideal to punish the child by banning TV time for a day.

Needless to say, positive reinforcement plays a huge role in disciplining your child too. If your parenting style solely includes punishments and no rewards, your child may grow up feeling resentful, unhappy and lack a sense of self-worth. Be equally generous with praises and rewards when deemed fit – balance is key! If possible, you may also tie in a reward system with a certain behaviour that you want to encourage. Let’s say you want your child to develop a habit of returning home no later than 10pm. The consequence for not sticking to the curfew may be grounding her for the next two days. However, if your child adheres to the rules and returns home by the stated curfew for the entire week, perhaps you can reward her for being responsible and consistent. This could mean giving her an additional hour out during the weekends, or bringing her out for her favourite meal. 

One major issue with corporal punishment is that apart from inflicting physical and psychological harm, it does not direct your child towards the desired behaviour. Discipline should be aimed at teaching. Ensuring your child learns from the event and to correct themselves in the future is what really matters. With that said, sometimes teaching them new skills can go a long way. If your child throws temper tantrums, teach him how to calm himself down and to deal with his frustration instead of spanking him. Such problem-solving and emotion-coping strategies will certainly help your child to build emotional resilience as well. 

The environment around us can influence the way we grow and behave too. If you have children or teenagers at home, lock the cabinets to the heavy liquor. If you want to foster a non-gambling home environment, keeping items such as poker cards away from sight can also be beneficial. Small changes to the surroundings can have more influence than you may think, and will also prevent the need for any serious punishment. 

Above all, it is necessary to be consistent with what you say and encourage your children to do. Be consistent with the rules you put forth and stand your ground, it is important for a child to know that the consequences and rewards aren’t selectively enforced. Guiding children away from misbehaviour can be a tough feat at times, but just as you’re about to reach for the cane, we hope you’ll think twice.

 


References:

  1. https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/education/most-parents-here-dont-spare-rod-on-kids-at-home-study (Accessed 22/02/2021)
  2. https://www.apa.org/research/action/speaking-of-psychology/disciplining-children  (Accessed 22/02/2021)
  3. https://www.healthxchange.sg/children/parenting-tips/child-discipline-physical-punishment-psychological-marks  (Accessed 22/02/2021)
  4. https://www.apa.org/monitor/2019/10/child-discipline (Accessed 22/02/2021)

 

Building the Bridge with Generation Z

Building the Bridge with Generation Z

Take a look around our workplace and you will likely see people from across different age groups, particularly as we now have many people working past the age of 60. In fact, it is not surprising to see at least up to four generations on the job today, from the Baby Boomers to Gen Z.  In case you are wondering what each of these generations refer to, here’s a rough guide:

Baby Boomers: They were born between 1946 and 1964, and are currently between 56 to 74 years old.

Generation X: Gen X was born between 1965 and 1980, and are currently between 40 to 55 years old.

Generation Y (also commonly known as Millennials): Individuals born between 1981 and 1996, and are currently between 24 to 39 years of age.

Generation Z (or Gen Z in short): Refers to the demographic cohort succeeding the Millennials, or loosely speaking, those born from 1995 to 2010. In other words, these people would be 10 to 25 years old at present. 

A flurry of potential labels has appeared that refer to Gen Z as well, including Gen Tech, post-Millennials, iGeneration, Gen Y-Fi, and Zoomers. It goes to show that this is truly a generation of digital natives. They have been born into a world of vast technological advances and innovations and exposed to smartphones, social media, virtual reality, the internet, and artificial intelligence from a very young age. This is where the gap has widened drastically between Gen Zs and those of Gen X, Gen Y, and especially the Baby Boomers. 

Unlike the older generations, the Gen Zs grew up during the rise of social media, smartphones and instant accessibility of information in a hyper-connected world. Gen Z individuals reportedly spend up to 3 hours a day on average on their computing and mobile devices. With that said, keep in mind that new technology is typically first adopted by the youngest generation before it is gradually adopted by the older generations. Baby Boomers in particular, still make up the largest proportion of traditional media consumers. While the younger generations have switched to digitalised news sources or other forms of online social media, quite a handful in the older generations is still sticking to the old-school television, magazines and newspapers. 

You might wonder, “So what exactly is the problem here?” Well, while it is true that generation gaps have long existed since time immemorial, the widening gap between generations is seemingly putting our interpersonal relationships under strain. Gen Zs across the world are well aware of the ways in which their childhood has been unique from their parents and grandparents. In the past year or so, the “OK Boomer” phenomenon has become increasingly widespread over social media. Albeit a little controversial, the term “OK Boomer” is often used by Gen Zs in a rather cutting and dismissive manner to a particular suggestion or criticism by an older generation person. As the term found its way onto the internet, the younger individuals found it to be an effective and all-encompassing manner of expressing their feelings, especially towards things that they find out-of-date. Even more so, Gen Zs and Millennials often use it whenever they want to direct our attention to generational conflicts – for example, expressing their frustration and critiquing the older generation for making judgements on issues such as gender expression, their financial choices, or their approach to job-hunting. 

We interviewed a fellow Gen Z, Himanshi, a current student at Nanyang Technological University pursuing a Bachelor of Communication Studies.  Here is what she has to say: “Social media certainly contributes to the widening gap due to the disparity between the types of communication and information mediums that we are engaged in. But at the same time, it is a natural occurrence simply due to the sheer difference in trends, preferences and eras.”

This brings us to what we can do to bridge the generational divide. For sure, we can’t stop the rapid evolution of how people communicate and interact, but perhaps it would be useful for us to have a better grasp on the Gen Z’s internet slangs and their way-of-speech, to narrow the communication divide at the very least.

“It may seem a little unfair to expect the older generations to pick up on our slang, especially since we don’t do much to understand their differing experiences and their perspectives either”, Himanshi added. “It’ll probably be a little awkward for us too if they were to start using them, but we cannot deny that it would certainly help in breaking down the communication barrier between us,” she laughs.

As much as we would like to include all the various slangs in this miniature guide, there are, frankly, way too many. However, we’ve picked out some of the most commonly used internet slangs adopted by Gen Z individuals. While this list is, for the most part, universal due to its online exposure, the usage of some phrases could vary depending on region and age group.

“Sus”
Popularised and widely used after the release of the game “Among Us”, this term is short for “suspicious”. 

“Oof”
Another term for “yikes”.

“Mood” / “Same” / “Me”
These are just various ways of saying “I can relate to that”.

Sksksksksksksks”
Although tough to pronounce it verbally (hence mostly used online), this internet slang is basically the new “hahahaha”. 

“Slaps”
This term does not actually refer to an actual slap. Instead, it is used in a positive light to describe something cool, or even praise-worthy. For example, Gen Zs may say, “This song slaps!’” 

“Thirsty”
Again, this term does not reflect the innate need to quench your thirst. This term is used to describe someone who is desperate for attention, especially from a romantic interest. 

“Shook” / “Shooketh”
Another way to express surprise or shock.

“I’m dead”/ “Dead”/ “Ded” / “I’m deceased”
These are various ways of reacting to something hilarious. These are sometimes replacements for terms such as “LOL”.

“No Cap”
A way to convince another person that you’re not lying. In other words, it is to convey authenticity and truth. For example, a Gen Z might say, “No cap, you look gorgeous.”

“Spill the tea” / “Tea”
“Tea” here refers to gossip or the latest scoop. When one says “Spill the tea”, they are asking you to let them in on the gossip. 

“Flex”
To show off. This can be applicable to possessions, or sometimes even knowledge and other intangibles. 

“This ain’t it, chief”
A humorous way of signalling to someone that their statement or opinion is wrong or stupid. 

“Salty”
A sense of jealousy, bitterness or sadness.

“Shade”
To “throw shade” at someone is to trash talk him with rude comments. 

“Highkey”
“Highkey” is often used in replacement of “very”, “really”, or “clearly”. It is used to express something straight up and openly. For example, “I highkey want that shirt!”

“Lowkey”
“Lowkey” is the opposite of “highkey”, and it is usually used to express something in a rather secretive and restrained manner. For example, “I want to keep this issue lowkey,” or “I lowkey hate that guy.”

As more and more Gen Zs are entering the workforce and infiltrating our offices, perhaps it’s highkey time for the older colleagues to study up and grasp these slangs. 

 


 

References:

https://www.vox.com/2019/11/19/20963757/what-is-ok-boomer-meme-about-meaning-gen-z-millennials (Accessed 27/10/2020)

https://www.kasasa.com/articles/generations/gen-x-gen-y-gen-z (Accessed 27/10/2020)

Photo by Nathan Anderson on Unsplash

 

Understanding Childhood Emotional Neglect 

Understanding Childhood Emotional Neglect 

As a child, how did adults around you react whenever you expressed your feelings? Did you grow up receiving that subtle message to wall up your emotions so they don’t get the better of you, or become anyone else’s burden? Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN) is a topic often overlooked, and many fail to realise that it can eventually manifest into mood disorders or anxiety disorders if not dealt with appropriately. 

Childhood Emotional Neglect occurs when our caretakers or parental figures fail to respond to our affectional needs suitably during critical stages in our development. An individual who grows up experiencing emotional neglect may experience a pattern of having his or her emotions being disregarded, invalidated or downplayed by others. While many of us may wonder, “What kind of parent doesn’t pay attention to a child’s emotional needs?” In reality, some parents may not actually realise that they have been shutting their child(ren) out emotionally. In Asian societies in particular, some parents are commonly labelled as “authoritarian” or “tiger parents”. These people may in fact perceive themselves to be giving the absolute best to their child, enforcing strict discipline and ensuring that their offsprings are well-equipped with the best skills to succeed in life. However, young children and teenagers may instead be overwhelmed by such demands, and feel as if their feelings were never considered or understood. Whilst we mentioned its prevalence in Asian societies, it is key to note that it is not merely limited to these children – many worldwide experience it too, making it an exceptionally important subject. With emotional neglect being a common feature in the childhood of many, it can become an undesirable shadow that follows us throughout our lives – eventually leading to undermined happiness and the lack of an authentic sense of self.  

Delving into the matter at hand, Childhood Emotional Neglect (CEN) can come in two forms – active and passive CEN. Active CEN is when parents or caregivers actively act in a way that dismisses or denies the child’s emotions. For instance, a boy is sent to his room for crying over the death of his pet fish, and his parents complain of having an overly-dramatic son. When the child is being denied of his sadness and is receiving the message that his behaviour is unreasonable, this forces the child to grow up hiding his feelings, and at times struggling with fear and shame of his own emotions. On the other hand, passive CEN occurs when parents show a lack of care or validation regarding the child’s emotional needs. When parents fail to notice when the child is angry, upset, hurt or anxious, this gives off a subliminal message to the child that his feelings are irrelevant or not worthy of note. In any case, both forms of CEN are clearly detrimental towards one’s mental health. 

Albeit not having a test or questionnaire that can help with a diagnosis for CEN, there are certain “symptoms” of CEN that may surface, be it in the later parts of one’s teenage years or adulthood.\

For one, individuals who have experienced CEN may find it difficult to prioritise their wants and needs, even if it’s something that would bring them great joy. It is innate for us to have desires and to just be aware of what we want and need. However, for someone who grows up having his feelings invalidated and cast aside, it could become a natural thing for him to keep his desires to himself. As such, even if opportunities do come along, these people would often fall through the cracks, most probably due to their inability to request for it upfront, or by allowing others to seize it instead. 

CEN also causes one to start projecting any feelings inward, regardless of whether they are negative or positive ones. People who have experienced CEN are particularly predisposed to turning feelings of anger inwards, as they never learnt how to be comfortable with their emotions, nor how to handle them in a healthy manner. It is often said that nothing good comes from bottled-up feelings, and that is absolutely true. 

Having pent-up feelings also mean that these individuals are not likely to seek help or lean into their support systems whenever things get tough, making them feel all the more isolated and vulnerable. Even at times when they are feeling deeply challenged by certain life events, they find themselves trying to cope all on their own, leading to unhealthy stress levels and anxiety. Unsurprisingly, the constant feelings of shame and inability to get in touch with one’s emotions will eventually lead to one losing sight of his or her strengths as well. As a result, poor self-esteem is sometimes a consequence of CEN.

While many individuals, including adults, fail to recognise the impacts of childhood emotional neglect on their lives due to its subtle nature, it is important that they get themselves back on track – to regain true happiness and greater self-esteem. You might have grown up devoid of your own emotions, but you need to recognise that facing them head-on will ultimately help you to cope with life events and for you to regain your sense of self. 

Learn to start getting in touch with and embracing what you feel – both the good and bad. Identifying what you feel in certain situations will be a good step towards helping yourself cope with your environment and daily life. When challenges seem overwhelming, don’t feel afraid or ashamed of reaching out to your friends and family for help either. Even more so, if you ever feel like you’re losing control of your life and are derailing emotionally, seek professional help as soon as possible. While not everyone who grows up with emotional neglect ends up with mood disorders such as depression or anxiety disorders, there are certainly people who do. Don’t deny yourself of your emotions any longer, therapy might just be the solution to helping you learn the vital life-coping skills you never learnt as a child.  

 


References: 

https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/how-emotional-neglect-during-childhood-affects-ones-mental-health (Accessed 07/10)

https://blogs.psychcentral.com/childhood-neglect/2018/09/the-2-types-of-childhood-emotional-neglect-active-and-passive/  (Accessed 07/10)

Photo by Isai Ramos on Unsplash

 

How Do You Find The Right Therapist For You

How Do You Find The Right Therapist For You

For many individuals, therapy is a rather intense and personal topic, and it could have taken them a lot of courage to finally seek the help that they need. Keeping this in mind, it is exceptionally crucial that one finds the right therapist, for there’s a pre-existing implicit clinical belief that the level of treatment effectiveness is greatly dependent on the therapist-client fit. Of course, every client would love to be able to – ideally – find that one therapist whom they can fully open up to from the very beginning, but in reality, that may not be the case. At times, it is necessary to assess your relationship with your therapist and evaluate if there’s the good rapport you need for your sessions to be a success. Ultimately, it boils down to whether you feel a steady, reliable and safe connection with the therapist, and whether you are making the progress you hope for. 

To give you some background, studies over the years have shown that the more similar the therapist and the client, the higher the rate of recovery. As an example, an assessment instrument entitled the “Structural Profile Inventory(SPI)”, which measures seven “independent yet interactive” variables (behaviours, affects, sensory imagery, cognition, interpersonal, drugs/biological factors or BASIC-ID), showed that client-therapist similarity on the SPI predicted a better psychotherapy outcome for the client as measured by differences pre- and post-treatment on the Brief Symptom Inventory. Moreover, the demographic similarity between therapist and client facilitates positive perceptions of the relationship in the beginning stages of treatment, enhances commitment to remaining in treatment, and at times can accelerate the amount of improvement experienced by clients. More precisely, it can be said that age, ethnicity, and gender similarity have been associated with positive client perceptions of the treatment relationship. With gender and cultural similarities appearing the most strongly preferred among clients, these domains generally enhance clients’ perceptions of their therapists’ level of understanding and empathy, and as a result, sessions are judged to be more advantageous and worthwhile. However, besides these, there are also other means to assess your “fit” with your therapist, and we’re here to discuss just that.

First and foremost, consider if you are seeking help in the right place. Does the therapist you are looking at specialise in the area you are seeking help for? Before we can even touch on the topic of interpersonal therapist-client fit, it is important for you to take the time to do some research on various therapists’ profiles – in other words, to sift through and read up on their respective areas of expertise. Typically, therapists would have their area(s) of specialisation up on their online profile directories. It would be clearly indicated if they specialise in areas such as substance abuse, family therapy, or even anger management. It goes without saying that, for example, it would be inappropriate to consult a psychologist who specialises in child psychology when you’re clearly looking for someone who can help you with your substance-use addiction. With that said, it is to no one’s benefit for you to rush into therapy blindly. 

Once you have chosen the potential therapist that you are most likely to want to have see you through your road to recovery, another essential question you should ask yourself is whether you are comfortable with their suggested mode of therapy. During consultations, you will have the opportunity to enquire about their recommended techniques or treatment methods that will be explored during your subsequent sessions. If you are uncomfortable with any particular process, giving honest feedback and exploring other methods is always an option. However, at any point, you also have the right to seek other therapists who may be able to help you in other ways that don’t put you in a tight spot. After all, therapy is all about having a safe and comfortable space for you to sort out your difficulties. 

When assessing your interpersonal connection with your therapist, make sure to trust your gut. This way, you’ll also be able to track your progress better and to seek alternative help if required. Some questions you can ask yourself are:

  1. Am I satisfied with the current balance of talking and listening with my therapist?
  2. Is my overall therapy experience safe, warm, and validating? 
  3. Am I fully assured that I’m in a non-judgemental space where I can be fully honest?
  4. How much has the therapist helped me to gain greater insight into my own behaviour and thoughts so far? 
  5. Am I becoming more capable of coping (independently) with stressful or triggering situations over time?
  6. Am I noticing more positive changes in myself, as compared to when I first started therapy?

As mentioned, a major deciding factor should also be on whether you find yourself noticing positive changes in your thought cycles and behaviour after a couple of sessions. At the end of the day, therapy should be about working towards achieving your desired outcome, and should definitely not be limited to weekly venting sessions. Although venting and letting out hard feelings can provide temporary relief, it fosters a client’s dependence on the therapist over time and further reinforces the client’s problems. Therapy should instead help you to feel more confident that you’ve developed the relevant skill sets in order to cope with whatever emotional challenges that brought you to seek therapy in the first place.

Naturally, there’s no guarantee that we will find chemistry with the first therapist we meet. The chemistry between people varies, and sometimes it’s just not possible for us to force it. Thus, it is important to remember that a lack of fit between therapist and client is no one’s fault. However, remember that the ball is in our court, and it is within our control to start looking in the right place for the sake of our own well-being.


 1 Herman, S.M. (1998). The relationship between therapist-client modality similarity and psychotherapy outcome. Journal of Psychotherapy Practice and Research, 1998 Winter; 7(1): 56-64.

2 Luborksky, L., Crits-Christoph, P., Alexander, L., Margolis, M., & Cohen, M. (1983). Two Helping alliance methods for predicting outcomes of psychotherapy: A counting signs vs. a global rating method. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 171, 480-491.

3 Jones, E. E., (1978). Effects of race on psychotherapy process and outcome: An exploratory investigation. Psychotherapy: Theory, Research and Practice, 15, 226-236.

4 Blase, J. J. (1979). A study of the effects of sec of the client and sex of the therapist on clients’ satisfaction with psychotherapy. Dissertation Abstracts International, 39, 6107B-6108B.

Beutler, L.E., Clarkin, J., Crago, M. and Bergan, J., 1991. Client-therapist matching. Pergamon general psychology series, 162, pp.699-716. (Accessed 30/08/2020)

https://www.counsellingconnection.com/index.php/2019/12/03/assessing-therapist-client-fit/ (Accessed 30/08/2020)

https://www.nytimes.com/roomfordebate/2013/02/14/think-like-a-pope-knowing-when-to-quit/when-to-quit-therapy (Accessed 30/08/2020)

Photo by Cytonn Photography on Unsplash

Gaming Addiction: What It Is and How Can You Self-Regulate?

Gaming Addiction: What It Is and How Can You Self-Regulate?

Predictive algorithms, the creation of alternate realities in which we are unlimited by the constraints of the real world we live in – such methods are extensively practiced by the gaming industry to draw players in. Gaming is undeniably a popular and widely-adopted mode of de-stressing, but how much is too much?

In May 2019, the World Health Organisation officially recognised “gaming addiction” as a mental health condition. It is diagnosed when a person displays a gaming behaviour pattern that causes significant disruption to their daily life for a period of 12 months. Meanwhile, a study showed that Singaporeans aged 18 and above spend a weekly average of 7 hours and 26 minutes playing video games, and that approximately 10 percent of Singaporeans game for more than 20 hours per week. This ranks us as the highest in Asia, and third highest in the world, falling only behind Germany and the United States. 

What leads these addicted individuals to their compulsive gaming behaviour? Besides the prevalence and ease of access to games on various gaming platforms, video games often act as a form of escapism for many players. As a shining proponent of the alluring, edge-cutting virtuality, games allow for players to throw themselves into a virtual landscape that is contrasted from their – comparatively –  mundane everyday lives, and can serve as a distractor from real-life problems that they are unconfident or reluctant to face. Moreover, it can be easy to fall into the trap set by game creators. Game designers construct games in a way that applies principles of behavioural economics as well as psychological mechanisms to explore stages and levelling up processes that trigger the brain’s reward system. In-game statuses matter a lot to gamers – the higher the rank you possess, the more pride and self-esteem you hold, knowing that you can show it off to your friends or gaming counterparts. As a result, individuals are often inclined to continue striving to climb the virtual hierarchy. 

Naturally, excessive gaming has its consequences. When an individual develops a gaming disorder, his lifestyles can be disrupted in more ways than one. What is also important to take note of, is that the harmful effects of gaming addiction is not only limited to the individual alone, but could also affect the people in his or her social circle. Some of these adverse effects can include:

  • Obsessive Behaviour
    Individuals who are addicted to video games are always anxious to get back to games and will often display irritable, bad-temper aggressive behaviour whenever they are separated from their games unwillingly.
  • Increased Social Isolation
    With extended periods of intense gaming, these individuals become more withdrawn and disconnected from family, friends and colleagues, causing them to drift away from their loved ones.
  • Other Mental Health Conditions
    Gaming addiction can eventually lead to other issues that include depression or anxiety disorders. Sometimes, depression may follow due to the prolonged social isolation.
  • Other Physical Health Conditions
    A gaming addiction can also have a number of physical effects. When one devotes an excessive amount of time to the gaming activity, this can lead to physical conditions such as the carpal tunnel syndrome, migraine, back-aches or eye-strain. Extreme addiction may cause gamers to skip meals and rest, or neglect their personal hygiene as they lose control of themselves and can’t resist the desire to play more and more.

Gaming addiction is a serious matter, and can be degenerative if not addressed in the early stages with the initial symptoms and signs. Habits, including unhealthy gaming habits, can be formed anytime between 1 to 3 months, and it will be significantly easier to curb such self-destructive behaviour the earlier we try to tackle it. 

While we are concerned with the various health risks and conditions commonly associated with gaming addiction, we cannot deny that video games are also undoubtedly entertaining and can be a good way to de-stress. However, as the risk of gaming addiction increases with increasing time spent gaming, what we want to advocate is moderation, rather than complete avoidance. With that said, if you are someone who is battling gaming compulsion, try to keep the amount of time spent gaming under control by setting time limits for play and stick to them. If possible, try reducing your playtime gradually by setting a timer on your phone, or use softwares such as ‘Cold Turkey Blocker’ to help you do this by blocking access to websites or applications so that you can get offline when you need to.

Like other forms of addictions, don’t try to go cold turkey at one go. Stopping altogether may cause you to feel as though there is a huge void in your life, hence increasing the likelihood of a relapse instead.  

Facing your addiction alone can be a daunting and lonely experience. If it comforts you, try joining peer support groups or online communities where like-minded people are going through the same experiences. One example of a global online video game support community would be ‘Game Quitters’, a forum specially designed to help gaming addicts connect and support each other on their road towards a normal life. And of course, don’t be afraid to go for professional help for addiction treatment like counselling or psychotherapy (therapy) if things get tough. Choosing to struggle alone is never a sensible option. 

 


References: 

https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/singapore/more-people-in-singapore-seeking-help-for-gaming-addiction-video-11974600 (Accessed 09/08/2020)

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