90% of compulsive gamers are not addicts…

Ninety per cent of the young people who seek treatment for compulsive computer gaming are not addicted. But the clinic is changing its treatment as it realises that compulsive gaming is a social rather than a psychological problem.

90% who may spend four hours a day or more playing games such as World of Warcraft, he no longer thinks addiction counselling is the way to treat these people.

"These kids come in showing some kind of symptoms that are similar to other addictions and chemical dependencies," he says.

But the more we work with these kids the less I believe we can call this addiction. What many of these kids need is their parents and their school teachers – this is a social problem."

In response to this realisation the clinic has changed its treatment programme for gamers to focus more on developing activity-based social and communications skills to help them rejoin society.

"This gaming problem is a result of the society we live in today," Mr Bakker told BBC News. "Eighty per cent of the young people we see have been bullied at school and feel isolated. Many of the symptoms they have can be solved by going back to good old fashioned communication."

For Mr Bakker the root cause of the huge growth in excessive gaming lies with parents who have failed in their duty of care.

But he is quick to point out that 87% of online gamers are over the age of 18 – and once they cross that line, help is something they need to seek for themselves because parents no longer have the legal right to intervene.

"It’s a choice," he says. "These kids know exactly what they are doing and they just don’t want to change. If no one is there to help them, then nothing will ever happen."

Mr Bakker believes that if there was more commitment from parents and other care givers to listen to what their children are saying then these issues of isolation and frustration could be dealt with at source and bring many young people out of the virtual world and back into real life.

Mr Bakker sees a time when addiction centres like Smith & Jones could close down if parents and adults in the community took more responsibility for the habits of their children.

"In most cases of compulsive gaming, it is not addiction and in that case, the solution lies elsewhere."

Article from: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/7746471.stm

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