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[Newsmaker] Self-understanding the best antidote to digital addiction: expert

Nov. 21, 2022 - 13:16 By Park Han-na
Alok Kanojia, president and co-founder of Healthy Gamer, speaks during the fifth edition of the enlightED 2022 conference held in Madrid on Nov. 17.


MADRID -- Self-understanding is the most critical part of treating children with video game addiction, which can be caused by various factors, a game addict-turned-psychiatrist and founder of a mental health coaching company said Thursday.

“The best antidote to the digital addiction is self-understanding,” Alok Kanojia, president and co-founder of Healthy Gamer, said during the fifth edition of the enlightED 2022 conference hosted by Fundacion Telefonica together with IE University and South Summit in Madrid on Nov. 16 and 17.

He noted that video games have evolved to fulfill different types of psychological needs of users.

“They are created to make everyone to be successful while leveling up in games.

“Video games let us create our own sense of identity that one can be really proud of than ourselves in real life. They also offer a sense of community,” he explained.

Kanojia cited research from the University of Toronto that found that people with certain personality traits enjoy or can become addicted to certain video game genres.

“This shows that technology addiction is highly individual unlike, for example, COVID which has particular treatments,” he said. “So it is important to understand your own need and desire that you wanted to fulfill through games in order to build a healthy relationship with technology.”

Waiting for platform developers, governments or researchers to come up with a solution to digital addiction problems would be a false hope, as technology evolves in a much faster manner, Kanojia stressed.

“Digital platforms and social media are not regulating themselves as their goal is to try to increase the amount of time that users use the platform. It takes years to do scientific studies and further more for policies to kick in,” he said.

The Harvard-trained psychiatrist has been using the Twitch livestreaming platform to give lectures and talk to people about their mental health.

His company Healthy Gamer hired its first employee in April of 2020 and now employs 130 people. It reaches about 4 billion to 5 billion people across 73 countries a year to help the online generation cope with the ills of the internet, according to Kanojia.