An 18-year-old teenager in Mumbai recently committed suicide when his parents refused to buy him a new mobile phone to play one of the most popular online game, PUBG. This is the extent to which the addiction to the game has reached, especially in India where parents have often been seen concerned about their children's addiction to mobile gaming.
Of late, voices calling a ban on PUBG in India are getting louder. Recently, an 11-year-old boy filed a PIL in Bombay High Court seeking a ban on PUBG after PM Modi's 'Pariksha Pe Charcha 2.0' where a concerned parent turned up seeking guidance on how she could keep her son, a Class IX student, away from online gaming. While the popularity of the game is increasing by the day so is the addiction to the game, so much so that it has now led a young boy to take his life.
We have spoken to psychiatrists who specialise in children's mental health problems and disorders. Psychiatrists have noticed a significant increase in the number of patients and concerned parents turning up to treat PUBG addiction.
A survey done by Quartz India found 62 per cent respondents in India prefer PUBG over any other games including Fortnight, Free Fire, Rules of Survival etc. and over 70 per cent of them play PUBG on a mobile phone. Now, PUBG boasts of more number of players on mobile version than PC. Its popularity across Asian countries has helped PUBG increase its reach to over 200 million devices and 30 million daily active players.
One report goes on to mention the total percentage of PUBG players on PC and consoles hardly reaches the 10 per cent mark in India. Hence there may be a pattern to it as most of the users in India rely on a mobile phone to play PUBG and as we have observed, PUBG's unmatched popularity in India saw a sudden boost after it became available for mobile users. And since the game became available on mobile, given the popularity of the game, many kids wanted to get their hands on a gaming compatible device.
"If your child wants a phone worth Rs 37,000, it's important to address why it matters to him so much. Is it peer pressure? Is it just impulsivity? Did you promise your child a phone worth Rs 37,000 and now he/she is adamant on it? It's important to address why your child is stuck up on one particular thing. Once parents address that, they can find a better way to deal with the problem," says Dr Nahid Dave, Psychiatrist.
1. Motivate your children
Dr Dave explains the concept of instant gratification that leads to impulsive behaviour among teenagers.
"Children in the current generation run on the principle of instant gratification. Hence it becomes tough for children to control their impulse if they don't get what they desire. So there's a clear-cut lack of consequential thinking among teenagers."
Parents can't be disciplinary directly. They should instead motivate their child to earn something they want, which will further result in delayed gratification.
"Parents should teach their child how to harness delayed gratification as children are usually unaware of how they should deal with the problem."
2. Observe your children
Psychiatrist Dr Rahul Bhatambre advises parents to provide their children with free time (game time) to play games.
"Parents should allocate a fixed game time, let's say from half an hour to one hour should be sufficient. This way, parents can sensitively deal with the situation and children won't keep playing games continuously for the rest of the day."
3. Basic emotion control
According to Dr Dave, Modelling could be a major flaw in parenting among the young generation of working parents who are often impulsive. Parents must have basic emotion control if they want their child to have it too. If they are reckless quite often in front of their children, children tend to get more impulsive.
"When they (parents) come home and things don't go their way, they act out impulsively, which affects the children. If parents want their child to behave differently, they themselves first have to behave differently."
4. Avoid comparing your children with others
Comparing children with others often make a child feel threatened (or challenged) and eventually make him or her fall prey to peer pressure. Which in turn makes them want what others have and it also inspires children to compare their parents with other parents.
Let's try to join the dots between what psychiatrists say about "peer pressure" and what data says about the growing popularity of PUBG on a "mobile phone." PUBG lacks cross-platform compatibility. Hence if all your friends play PUBG on a mobile phone, you must also have a mobile phone to participate in the game together. This isn't the case with other games such as Fortnite, which is also why many still prefer Fortnite over PUBG. Even if you play PUBG Mobile using PC emulators, you can't play with your friends unless they also opt for PC emulators. This coupled with the massive popularity of the game could potentially be causing excessive peer pressure among PUBG players, mainly teenagers.