The head of Europe's first games addiction clinic has admitted that gaming addiction isn't really an addiction per se, but more akin to a symptom of a larger social disorder.
According to Keith Bakker of The Smith and Jones Centre in Amsterdam, the first clinic set up to tackle game addiction exclusively, 99 percent of the people he works with are not true gaming addicts. Bakker claims that while the gamers who exhibit compulsive behaviours can be successfully cured of games addiction, the reality is that it is a larger social problem, not a purely psychological one.
"This gaming problem is a result of the society we live in today,
" Mr Bakker told the BBC
. "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 centre is thus now moving away from the typical abstinence method which is used to treat true addictions such as drugs and sex and focusing more on activity-based social therapy.
"If I continue to call gaming an addiction it takes away the element of choice these people have," he says. "It's a complete shift in my thinking and also a shift in the thinking of my clinic and the way it treats these people,
" said Bakker.
Bakker also believes that the way to avoid compulsive gaming becoming an issue is communication, mainly between parents and children.
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