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COVID-19 Lockdown Sets The Stage For The Spread Video Gaming Addictions

With people being encouraged to stay home as much as possible, experts are expecting video game addictions to spread worldwide.

Bloomberg reported that psychiatrists have already witnessed a spike in the number of patients struggling with a video game addiction and that support groups all over the world are seeing members relapse as a result of self-isolation and social distancing practices.

Stress, financial pressures, and feeling socially isolated can lead to a relapse of any addiction – and with video games being readily accessible from home, the COVID-19 pandemic could spark a relapse for many struggling with a video gaming addiction.

On the 16th of March the online gaming platform Steam broke its record for the most concurrent users (that is, the number of gamers on the platform at the same time), reaching 20.3 million users logged in, of which 6.4 million were actively playing a game.

It didn’t take long for the platform to break this record again. On the 4th of April the new all-time user peak reached 24.5 million, with 8.1 million users in game, according to SteamDB.

Source: SteamDB

Usage on Twitch, which is the world’s most popular live streaming platform for gamers, has skyrocketed in recent months. Its total hours watched rose by 24% in March to hit 1.2 billion. Hours streamed was also up, rising by 31% to 49.1 million.

A quick search on the subreddit r/stopgaming demonstrates that the COVID-19 pandemic has indeed reignited gaming addictions. “I can’t do it anymore. A month and a half cold turkey but this pandemic got me shook. Anxiety and worry, nothing to do, living at home bored, can’t work because of the virus,” one anonymous user said. “I just think my mental health would be better off with video games to distract me. Please provide insight because I literally have nothing to do.”

The World Health Organization (WHO) officially recognised gaming disorder in the International Classification of Diseases in 2018. WHO characterising it as impaired control over gaming to the extent that it takes precedence over other interests and daily activities, and the continuation or escalation of gaming despite negative consequences.

However, many people also find that gaming in moderation can help with their mental health.

If you are worried about your own gaming habits or a possible video gaming addiction of a loved one, you may find the following resources helpful:

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