Are you addicted?By Queena N. Lee-Chua
Philippine Daily Inquirer
Last of three parts
Psychologist Kimberly Young is best known for her Internet Addiction Test, used worldwide by therapists. But she has also come up with variants, such as the Quiz for Obsessive Online Gaming, which appears on her site www.netaddiction.com.
If you answer “yes” to any one of the questions below, you may be at risk of being obsessed with online gaming.
1. Do you need to play online games with increasing amounts of time to achieve your desired excitement?
2. Are you preoccupied with gaming (thinking about it when offline, anticipating your next game)?
3. Have you lied to friends and relatives to conceal the extent of your online gaming?
4. Do you feel restless or irritable when attempting to cut down or stop online gaming?
5. Have you repeatedly tried, but were unsuccessful, to control, cut back, or stop online gaming?
6. Do you use gaming to escape from problems or to relieve helplessness, guilt, anxiety or depression?
7. Have you jeopardized or lost a significant relationship (even your marriage) because of your online gaming habit?
8. Have you jeopardized your job or education because of your online gaming habit?
Young has also come up with another self-test, the Cybersexual Addiction Quiz, which can be accessed at her site.
I have discussed gaming obsessions with my college students, who are usually candid about their interests. But I am uneasy about bringing up the topic of pornography, believing that it is really none of my business what my students do in their spare time.
However, in the past year, to my shock, I have been asked to give seminars to parents, counselors and teachers in five different private schools on how to deal with children and adolescents who indulge in online porn.
According to Philip Zimbardo, Stanford University psychology professor, the average American high school boy watches porn for two hours a week. A total of 13,500 porn movies came out last year in the United States, compared to 600 films produced by established Hollywood companies.
I have no statistics on the habits of Filipino children and teens. But, according to counselors and teachers in the five schools, porn addiction is becoming a problem with boys as young as those in Grade 3.
High school boys, I am told, are drawn to real-life porn (done by real adults), while younger kids visit anime porn sites. I did not even know that anime porn existed till last year.
In their book “The Demise of Guys: Why Boys Are Struggling and What We Can Do about It,” Zimbardo and psychologist Nikita Duncan argue that boys who are addicted to cybergaming and porn are less capable of facing ordinary life.
Zimbardo and Duncan quote the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention which say that porn users are more likely to be depressed and report “poor physical health.” Porn can “start a cycle of isolation and become a substitute for healthy face-to-face interactions, social or sexual.”
“The incredible array of pornography that is available to young men is creating an addiction to arousal and habituating young men to similarity,” Zimbardo tells the paper The Stanford Daily. “They are thus unable to perceive reality as it is and are much less prepared for significant and meaningful sexual relationships.”
While I may not have data on college porn, I do know that several of my male students find it hard to maintain healthy romantic relationships and, when breakups occur, they become bitter and resentful, laying the blame on their exes or, in extreme cases, stalking them.
Guys addicted to porn tend to objectify women. They are “totally out of sync in romantic relationships, which tend to build gradually and subtly, and require interaction, sharing, developing trust and suppression of lust at least until ‘the time is right,’” Zimbardo and Duncan tell CNN.
“Young men—who play video games and use porn the most— are being digitally rewired in a totally new way that demands constant stimulation. And those delicate, developing brains are being catered to by video games and porn-on-demand, with a click of the mouse, in endless variety.”
Not surprisingly, these young men also do badly in school.
“Such [addicted] brains are totally out of sync in traditional school classes, which are analog, static and interactively passive,” Zimbardo and Duncan say. “Academics are based on applying past lessons to future problems, on planning, on delaying gratification, on work coming before play and on long-term goal-setting.”
As with any addiction, the best treatment is prevention. Do online gaming if you must, but stop before you succumb to its lure.
Visit Kimberly Young’s website at www.netaddiction.org. Catch Philip Zimbardo’s talk at www.ted.com.
E-mail the author at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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