ML addiction: a silent pandemic

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ML addiction: a silent pandemic

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Two years ago, a mother approached me for advice. His teenage son was spending more time at the nearby Internet Café than at his classroom. Mom was called by the teacher. There was no easy solution. The son was not the only one addicted to video games. Before Covid, Internet cafés were already filled with young boys and girls of school age waging war with one another in front of computer screens shouting yawa and leche at each other.   

Two days ago, a father shared with me his exasperation. “Dugay na mouli akong anak. Gipasagdan na ang modules. Motubag-tubag na. Gibutangan pa gyug password iyang cellphone. Di kokasud.”

As I have anticipated and written about it before, all the lockdown and new system of education has exacerbated the problem. Millions of people worldwide, young and adult, had been addicted to video games, and there are many. Topping the list is ML. Short for Mobile Legends.

A young man in the United Kingdom went blind for spending 24 hours playing with his gadget. A young man from our own country, Michael Tumugan, was reported to have admitted on Facebook that his addiction to the online game “Mobile Legends: Bang Bang” led to his illness. He died of Stage 4 colon cancer. Tumugan himself confessed that he acquired the disease after he frequently deprived himself of sleep and skipped meals just to play the game. “Kung mababalik lang ang panahon para mapigilan ang pagka kasakit ko nito.Nawalan ako ng disiplina sa katawan.Naa dika ko sa Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, to the point na hindi na ako kumakain at natutulog”, he was quoted to have said.

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Sadly, while games are originally intended to help reduce stress and anxiety, it has caused the opposite. Work or school have instead suffered. Both teenagers and adults are spending money to get access to more of such games. They neglect their responsibilities. Nahungog na. Trying to get ahead in the game. 

There are various negative effects of playing Mobile Legends. It can be a distraction while performing another important activity. It can adversely affect students’ study habits, grades, and social interaction with others.

Why is ML addictive? It was designed to be addictive. The developers are supposed to have done their job well if many people are addicted to their inventions. Those games are meant to be addictive. The more people will play them, and subsequently buy the upgrades to progress in their game level, the more money for the developers and owners. It is plain business for them, at the expense of public health.

How to stop being addicted? Uninstall. You are not supposed to bring yourcellphones in bed.Nor allow your children to do so.There is a password and you cannot open the gadget? That is the bottom line. If you cannot regulate your kids’ activities, no amount of government interference will matter.

Politicians? They might be afraid to antagonize users. ML (among others) is a hugely popular game. Nowadays, both children and adults own mobile phones filled with games that can occupy their entire day. For sure, Mobile Legends is one of them.

Mobile game addiction is indeed associated with mental health problems, social anxiety, depression, and loneliness. This is especially true for male adolescents who are more likely to experience a higher level of social anxiety, depression, and loneliness after excessive use of mobile gaming. Almost all such games that are made constantly accessible ultimately make children addicted to the game.

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Excessive preoccupation, dangers to health, behavioral problems, increased aggression and poor performance. These are the 4 conclusive effects of this silent pandemic. Therapy is badly needed for this. But are parents and authorities paying attention? Again, not just government, but so with business and civil society.

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