Compulsive gamers are 'not addicts', says expert

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London, Nov 25 : Young people who seek treatment for compulsive computer gaming are not addicted, says a leading expert.

According to Keith Bakker the founder and head of Europe's first and only clinic to treat gaming addicts, compulsive gaming is a social rather than a psychological problem.

The Smith and Jones Centre in Amsterdam, has treated hundreds of young gamers since the clinic opened in 2006. But the clinic is changing its treatment follwing the realisation.

The clinic has had very high success rate by using traditional abstinence-based treatment models to treat people who also show other addictive behaviours such as drug taking and excessive drinking.

However, Bakker believes that such kind of cross-addiction affects only 10 percent of gamers.

For the other 90percent who may spend four hours a day or more playing games, 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. But the more we work with these kids these 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," BBC quoted him, as saying.

Following the realisation, the clinic has changes 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. 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," the expert added.

According to Bakker, parents are to be blamed for the huge growth in excessive gaming as they have failed in their duty of care.

For younger gamers, intervention may be the only way to break the cycle, the expert said.

ANI

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