Video games are the new pandemic: school abandonment, violence and runaways
How does the UK deal with gambling disorders and what does addiction lead to?
The harmful addiction to video games among young people is just as destructive as any other addiction. Recently in the UK created a specialized clinic where young people are assisted in the treatment of gaming disorders. Symptoms of these disorders can manifest as aggression, refusal to attend school, and even running away from home at night in search of a place with Wi-Fi access.
One of the leading experts in this field is Professor Henrietta Bowden-Jones. She was often approached for help by relatives of young gamblers when Henrietta was director of the National Gambling Addiction Clinic. This led to the conclusion that computer gamers spend money to win just as compulsively.
As a result, the UK National Health Service opened the first clinic specializing in the general treatment of gambling addictions. The center accepted its first patient in 2020. It was expected that the clinic would rehabilitate no more than 50 people a year, but annually it receives about 800 calls.
Bowden-Jones recounts shocking stories of children running out of their homes at night hoping to pick up Wi-Fi at other people’s homes after their parents turned off the internet.
There were cases when teenagers said that they would rather die than stop playing. There are also frequent examples of domestic violence. They most often flare up during conversations about money. Doors and household items are broken in anger, and family members become victims. Another interesting fact is that almost no one who applied for help suffers from both computer addiction and gambling addiction (“gambling” disorder). However, about a third of all patients borrowed money or used cash gifts to buy game improvements. And those who could not get the funds sometimes resorted to theft, using cash or their parents’ bank cards.
Bowden-Jones notes that competition and dignity are important for patients, which is why many refuse to use paid “loot boxes” (game improvements).
Lootboxes have become one of the most discussed topics in their time. Their popularity reached a climax when Electronic Arts decided in 2017 to introduce paid elements to the popular game Battlefront 2. This led to legal cases, demands from countries to ban paid loot boxes, as well as a vote by the European Union to take action against monetary improvements and game addiction. in January.
While the majority of the clinic’s patients are young adults between the ages of 16 and 17, players in their 20s and 30s also seek help. The oldest patient is a woman in her 70s. Adults with a gambling disorder risk their careers, relationships with friends and family, and may also be deeply in debt.
In 2018, the World Health Organization defined gambling addiction as a form of mental disorder. It is characterized by loss of self-control, lack of other hobbies and interest in daily activities, and indifference to negative consequences.
The WHO indicates that gaming disorder causes significant harm to the functioning of the individual in various areas of life and usually lasts for at least a year.
One of the most famous cases occurred in 2018 when a nine-year-old girl addicted to the game Fortnite was sent to rehab after she was unable to move away from the screen to go to the bathroom.