Compulsive Young Gamers Are Not Addicts

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There are plenty of kids under 18 who spend a lot of time playing video games. But just because they’re compulsive about it doesn’t mean they’re addicted, according to Keith Bakker, head of the Smith & Jones Center in Amsterdam, Europe’s only gaming addiction clinic.

Instead, he feels, the problem might well be social, and the clinic has begun changing its treatment accordingly. The more usual abstinence therapy has worked where the young people have also displayed other addictions, such as alcohol, but that’s only 10% of the patients. For the other 90%, Bakker feels, activity-based and social skills are more effective.

He told the BBC:

"This gaming problem is a result of the society we live in today. 80% 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."

However, Bakker notes that 87% of all online gamers are over 18, which means that if they want treatment, they have to seek it for themselves.