- Alexander Evgenievich, WHO included video game addiction in the ICD-11 list of diseases back in 2018.

On January 1, 2022, the document entered into force.

How does the Russian scientific community view this issue?

Can computer games cause an addiction similar to drug addiction or alcoholism?

- In general, the scientific community, including the Russian one, tried to bring closer the day when addiction to computer games would be recognized as a disease at the WHO level.

For example, Russian psychiatrists-addictologists have talked a lot about the problem of computer addiction, they approach the issue precisely from the standpoint of psychiatry.

At the same time, the American Psychiatric Association also considered this issue, but in the end it did not consider it possible to classify computer addiction as a disease.

So, there is still no need to talk about a unanimous position on this issue in the scientific community.

I presented the first review on this problem back in 2000, and in 2009 the Faculty of Psychology of Moscow State University held a symposium on Internet addiction.

We also published then a collection of articles on this topic.

It must be said that at first, research in this area was conducted quite randomly, not always in accordance with the criteria of evidence-based medicine.

There were no control groups, selection of subjects, etc. And this prevented the recognition of computer addiction as a disease.

Now everything has changed, because a new diagnosis has appeared.

However, new methods of treatment have not yet been developed for him, there are no strict recommendations.

- That is, now each specialist decides for himself how to treat such a patient?

 - Yes something like that.

For doctors, we are all the same, because we consist of the same organs, and for psychologists, we are different, because our psyche is not the same.

As for clinicians, this is, of course, a joke.

However, we can seriously say that there are no pills for Internet addiction and probably will not be.

Even the Chinese colleagues have not come up with anything like this yet.

So the treatment of such addiction is psychotherapy.

There is, however, another method, I conditionally call it "Chinese" - this is the placement of the patient in prison, barracks conditions.

— Hard restriction of access to the computer?

- To a computer, smartphone, tablet, to any gadgets.

Also, “re-education” includes marching, drill exercises, etc. In this case, I am not exaggerating - those who wish can independently familiarize themselves with the RT documentary on this topic.  

How common is this addiction?

Let's say out of a hundred people who play computer games, how many can have a predisposition to form an addiction?

 - Unfortunately, there are no exact statistics.

According to rough estimates, in developed countries, from 2 to 6 percent of the population is at risk of computer addiction.

I emphasize, not the youth, but the entire population.

The situation is worst in East Asian countries - China, South Korea, etc. By the way, for a long time we thought that there was no such problem in Japan - Japanese scientists did not publish articles on this topic.

But now English-language articles have appeared, it turned out that this disease also occurs in Japan.

And in China, Internet addiction has long been recognized as a disease.

  • Treatment of adolescent gambling addiction in China

  • RT

In fact, computer addiction is not the only addiction that is not associated with the ingestion of some narcotic substances into the human body.

For example, gambling has long been on the list of addictions - an addiction to gambling.

And it is sometimes even more dangerous than alcoholism.

There is also pyromania, when a person gets pleasure from the sight of burning objects, buildings.

There is kleptomania, this is also a form of addiction.

These addictions differ from chemical ones, the mechanism of development of which is clear to doctors.

For example, alcoholism can develop over decades, half a lifetime a person only “learns” to be an alcoholic.

With drugs, this process is faster, but it still takes time.

And computer addiction can develop in one and a half to two months, such cases caused bewilderment among specialists, because before in medical practice such a rate of formation of addictions had not been encountered.

This means that in this case, psychological factors play an important role, in addition to purely medical ones.

How far can such a disease go?

— This is a fairly young disease, so we have a small history of observations.

But specific lethal outcomes have already been recorded when the game so captured a person that he forgot to eat.

And diagnosing computer addiction has become more difficult due to the popularity of eSports, where teams of players can win millions in prizes.

It is clear that this area attracts many, and it is not always clear what drives a person - ambition or addiction?

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  • © Alistair Berg

- When should the player himself or his relatives be wary?

What are the signs that gambling has gone from a leisure activity to an addiction?

- There are such signs, but they are not medical, but rather social.

We can talk about addiction if everything that a person has achieved in life collapses because of the game, if he does not want to know relatives, leave home, does not want to get a job, calmly accepts his own exclusion from the institute, etc. If it collapses his family life - for example, his wife leaves.

Such social losses against the background of addiction to the game are a reason to turn to a psychologist or psychiatrist.

And, of course, a lot depends on the family, parents.

I remember once they brought me a little boy, a schoolboy.

I ask him: how does your mother talk to you?

And he replies that he loves to talk with his grandmother - she hugs him, squeezes him.

Then I asked his mother, when was the last time she kissed her son?

To which she replied that “this is not accepted” in their family ... Although children need physical contact, both boys and girls.

This boy was from the very beginning deprived of affection in his own family, not to mention the fact that he lived without a father.

He was used to the distance with his mother, and therefore did not perceive her calls to stop constantly playing.

- There is a version according to which computer games and social networks are designed in such a way that they provoke constant releases of dopamine in the human brain, imitate the pleasure that a person receives in real life from sports and other achievements.

This is true?

- It is possible that this is true - this version is heard too often in order not to correspond to the real state of affairs at all.

Computer games are made very cleverly, if you evaluate them from the standpoint of behavioral psychology.

This, let me remind you, is the psychology of behavior, one of the main psychological schools of the last century.

The bottom line is that in order to form a habit, it is important to receive some kind of reward for each such action.

This is especially noticeable in animal training, in its humane format, when animals are trained, rewarding them with treats for some actions.

And computer games also have such a reward system - a player can win an artifact that is valuable in the context of the game or move to a higher level.

By the way, the "slave trade" thrives in the gaming environment, when a person who has money, but does not have free time, hires another person to play for him.

Often several people are hired at once, usually from other, poorer countries.

There are even people who got rich on this - they buy the so-called "stables", which employ, say, 15 people in three shifts on five computers and "unwind" five game characters.

And high-level characters, along with valuable artifacts, are then resold to even busier, more ambitious and even richer players.

This

the whole industry.

Colossal money is spinning in the global gaming business: this is the cost of paid games, and the sale of game artifacts in legal and even illegal stores.

- Gaming corporations are hardly interested in introducing any restrictions on the access of children and adolescents to games, as they do in China ...

- Yes, but these corporations in the West are still in a certain vice, because in a number of countries there are commissions that assign an age limit to each game.

These recommendations are not mandatory, but buyers try to ensure that their children play games that are appropriate for their age.

Of course, this is unprofitable for game producers who, on the contrary, would like to capture as large an audience as possible.

For example, they are trying to involve women in computer games.

Are women less interested in video games than men?

- Let's just say that girls play no less than boys, but with age they most often quit this activity.

Therefore, computer game manufacturers are puzzled over how to capture the female audience.

For example, by creating games with characters that women would like to imitate.

The creation of such a game would give enormous commercial advantages.

But so far, female characters in popular games are more likely to repeat male behaviors, show physical strength and aggressiveness.

In addition, women and girls have more social responsibilities.

Who will help mom, wash the dishes or cook for the arrival of guests, a boy or a girl?

In addition, girls are more careful about their appearance - what girl, girl, wants to look like a typical gamer - disheveled, in wrinkled clothes?

“Today, children start playing computer games from preschool age.

Are children more prone to computer addiction than adults?

— Preschoolers, of course, are more susceptible to such influence.

They have a lot of free time, fewer social obligations.

As for restrictions, for five-year-olds, for example, there are many very useful games in which children learn, is that bad?

This class of games is called serious games, "serious games".

There are calls to gamify education so that learning takes place at least in part in the form of a game.

And this approach has its own logic.

For example, not all reactions can be carried out in a school chemistry room, only relatively simple ones.

And complex ones can be shown to children in the recording.

YouTube, for example, has videos with very interesting physical and chemical experiments.

And this can awaken children's interest in these sciences.

Or, let's say, you can selectively show fragments from films based on novels,

- Speaking of reading.

Now, many parents, even in traditionally reading families, complain that books today cannot compete with gadgets in the eyes of children.

What does it say?

“There are many such observations.

Now children do not want to study, skipping school is a holiday for them.

Previously, educators and psychologists wrote that at the age of 6-8, children wake up with a desire to learn, and this should be used.

And now this is not the case, because even without a school there is a lot of information, it pours on children from all sides.

And usually this is low-value, superficial information, which children cannot distinguish from valuable information.

There is so much of it that it is difficult for children to keep themselves busy for a long time just reading, the book makes them yawn.

Is this how clip thinking is formed, which is talked about so much?

“Philosophers and culturologists talk about it rather, psychologists don’t operate with such a term.

It's just a lack of mindfulness, a lack of mindfulness skills.

They can be worked out in the family, in educational institutions, but no one does this.

But mindfulness, and thinking abilities, and perception - everything should develop harmoniously.

- That is, the problem is wider than just children's passion for games?

- Much wider.

Taking into account the changes that information technology has brought to our lives, it is necessary to change the approach to school education.

For example, do not force children to learn specific dates.

People who were forced to learn a lot of background information, graduating from school, can easily confuse the Trojan and the First World War.

Our generation, for example, taught the congresses of the RSDLP and the CPSU.

Did it have to be done?

Or is it necessary to understand how social thought developed in the 19th and 20th centuries?

Is it important to know what number lithium occupies in the periodic table, or is it necessary to know the principles by which it is compiled?

That is, there is no need to require children to memorize encyclopedic information, because today each of us has an encyclopedia with us, in a smartphone.

And if you change the approach to learning, learning will be perceived differently by children, it will be a joy to them.

This is my point of view, it is not very popular, some parents will even call it heresy.

 - Still, does it make sense to impose limits on the use of gadgets for children?

For example, in the media every now and then there is information that key figures in the largest

IT

companies, such as Bill Gates and others, restrict access to smartphones and tablets for their children.

How could you comment on this?

Taking away a smartphone from a child is a severe punishment.

Because in this way you tear the child away from all social life, from the circle of his comrades.

You still won’t be able to pick up a smartphone for a year, for example.

It is possible that there is such a craze among the wealthy owners of IT companies, but it is most likely not based on distrust of new technologies, but on a craving for exclusivity.

There was a time when buying a computer for a child was a contribution to his development.

But now even the poorest families have such equipment.

Therefore, today a sign of exclusivity is when parents hire a candidate of biological sciences for their child as a tutor, for example.

Or send him to a prestigious school where children will be taught the old fashioned way.

And such a school is no longer affordable for poor people.

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We can say that today raising a child away from gadgets is an experiment, its results will be clear only when such children become adults.

At the same time, it should be noted that today the Internet is an affordable way to get a place in the social environment.

If you are a sufficiently knowledgeable or witty person with your own point of view on what is happening, then you can quickly collect followers on the social network who will listen to you as an expert.

Such is today the “social lift” that a teenager can earn on his own without asking his parents for money for fashionable clothes and equipment.

- What can you advise people so that the Internet, computer games bring them benefit, and not harm?

And what rules should parents follow in connection with the advent of the Internet reality?

- Internet reality does not replace the real reality.

It is necessary, just as in the old days, to take children to the theater, circus, to concerts, etc. So that the Internet does not replace the real impressions received in real life.

Just like in the past, children need to be taught politeness, caring for other people.

We need to show children that there are also human relationships, because children often misunderstand the human side of life.

And it is very important to achieve trust in your own children - so that, faced with, for example, bullying on the Internet, the child first of all turns to his parents for help.

The most important thing is to build trusting relationships.

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