Popular mobile game PUBG (PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds) once again faces calls to be banned after a 14-year-old gaming addict shot dead his family in Lahore last month. Police officials claim the teenager had turned aggressive after failing to achieve the given targets in the game. Under the influence of the game, they claim, he opened fire on his mother and three siblings, who died on the spot.

PUBG has been previously temporarily banned in Pakistan and police had asked that internet service providers temporarily block it after three teenage suicides were traced to the game.

The relationship between videogames and violence is, however, not that linear. It is a classic chicken-and-egg problem. Is it video games that are making adolescents violent? Or is it that maladjusted individuals are seeking solace in the alternate reality of video games?

In 2019, the World Health Organisation (WHO) officially recognised “gaming disorder” as a mental health condition which occurs when gaming interferes with people’s daily lives, or takes priority over other interests and activities, causing impairments in their familial relationships, social lives and other areas.

Often excessive use of social media apps, such as Tiktok, or video games are linked to higher rates of suicides and mental health issues among the youth. Banning them temporarily seems to be the convenient option for local authorities, but this only serves as a band-aid solution since it will not cure the pathology that led a user to turn to these avenues. Someone looking to escape their home’s hostile environment might find solace in drugs, vandalism or other thrill-seeking activity, if one avenue is blocked.

A recent incidence of homicide by a gamer has sparked debate on whether video games are inciting violence in the youth or whether they are being scapegoated

Clinical psychologist Shahzor Hashim argues: “People who have violent tendencies might channel them through video games. From what I understand about the recent case, it might not have been the game per se, but the lack of patience and impulse control which caused the teen to snap.”

He adds that there are other questions to be asked as well. If there was no gun at home, would he have still killed his family? Was the environment at his home tense and was the video game his only …….


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