The rise of Internet Gaming Disorder during the pandemic in the Philippines
The global coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic caused detrimental changes in aspects of human life. The IATF or Inter-Agency Task Force strictly implemented various mandated policies for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, such as limiting people going outside their homes, constant lockdown to affected areas, restricting physical and social interactions, and implementing social distancing. However, the majority of the citizens have experienced a vulnerability to negative emotional distress and chronic stress, thus increasing prevalence during the pandemic, which may contribute to the increasing severity and development of mental health problems (Qiu et al., 2020). To ameliorate the tension that the people felt due to the policies enacted. In response to the ordinances and to mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic's mental health consequences, the World Health Organization (WHO) proposed engaging in activities such as playing video games and online games as a part of the #HealthyAtHome campaign (WHO, 2020).
However, the potential long-term effects of such advice on the well-being of the youth, particularly among inordinate gamers, have serious health consequences and have been correlated to certain forms and intensity of excessive web usage, giving rise to the term "internet gaming addiction." The American Psychological Association (APA) recently incorporated internet gaming disorder (IGD) as a diagnostic entity in the DSM-5-TR, characterized by compulsive behaviors and ineffective control over recurring, continuous, and disorganized behavioral patterns. Addictive behaviors can lead to adverse health outcomes such as social relationship issues, difficulties with properly functioning roles and responsibilities, poor sleep, and mental conditions are all common.
Several internet providers have emerged in this context to provide people with internet connections. However, the country's accessibility and affordability of internet connections may negatively affect the physical and psychological well-being of every individual residing in the Philippines. Moreover, according to the website Statistica (2020), roughly 70% of the population in the Philippines has internet access which may still increase due to the shift of classes and work in the remote and online learning settings. According to a recent inquiry by Labana et al. (2020) from the Polytechnic University of the Philippines, approximately 29.9 million are classified as gamers in the country. The rise of this population has directly affected the increased prevalence of internet gaming disorder in the Philippines (Chia et al., 2020). The study also found a link between depression and the severity of internet gaming addiction.
Furthermore, research on the determinants of the pandemic on children's and adolescents' psychological health revealed that these age groups are predisposed and vulnerable to developing psychological disorders (Wang et al., 2020). An upsurge in video gaming activities may be viewed as a means of coping to assist youth in dealing with the psychosocial burden associated with the COVID-19 (Liang et al., 2020). Though it is reasonable to expect youth to become more involved in video gaming activities, increased exposure may increase susceptibility to IGD. The adolescent years are well-known for being associated with an increased risk of developing a variety of psychotic symptoms, making it a vulnerable time frame for compulsive behavior such as IGD (Peeters et al., 2018). As a result, when subjected to COVID-19-related stress, there is an increasing probability that these individuals might choose a negative coping strategy without knowing that it may increase their susceptibility to the IGD through inordinate ill-administered gaming. As a result, mental healthcare providers must assist people, particularly young adults, in overcoming behavioral addictions.
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