Increased video game addiction in children

Written by Dr. Andrew Doan & Brooke Strickland on .

Addiction can be likened to be caught in a tangled web.  Addiction can completely bind a person – their mind, their body, their soul.  The deeper and deeper the addiction is, the harder it is to break free.  Children are no different, and unfortunately video game addiction is affecting young children deeply, causing them to get snarled up in a net of addiction. A recent article by The Irish Times, discusses how more preteens and early adolescents are seeking help for their addiction to gaming. Three years ago, it was common to see teens ages 15 and older seeking help for addiction, but now more and more children as young as 10 years old are obsessed with games and are seeking help.

A recent Dutch report shows statistics from eight addiction clinics nationwide and reports that the number of youngsters being treated for computer game addiction was 256 in 2011 and that number rose to 426 the following year – an increase of 66 per cent. At the same time, research by Erasmus University teaching hospital in Rotterdam suggests about 1.5 per cent of boys between 13 and 16 are addicts. That’s about 12,000 children who play for an average of about eight hours a day – in the Netherlands alone. (1) If this is just one country, imagine how staggering the numbers are worldwide. 

Clearly, youth are becoming more and more addicted to games and technology as a whole. How do we combat this? First, education for teachers and parents is key. It’s easy for adults to dismiss gaming addiction, thinking that it’s no big deal and that kids can simply just “turn off” the game. It isn’t that easy for some children that have addictive tendencies or are experiencing other things in their lives that cause them to feel isolated or are experiencing other issues that trigger withdrawal from real life. Second, if your child is showing signs of becoming addicted to games, set strict boundaries and hold to them. Third, if addiction is clearly a problem, don’t ignore it. Gaming and technology addiction is very real and requires professional help.  

1.Cluskey, Peter. “Children caught in net as addiction to online video games increases.” The Irish Times.  February 25, 2014. Accessed online February 25, 2014.

By Brooke Strickland and Andrew Doan, MD PhD