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Is gaming addiction caused by ‘real life’ problems?

I worry about my brother, he is 21 and addicted to gaming. He spends all of his spare time playing games online with friends and distant strangers. Getting him outside of his house can be difficult at times, and I always wondered – is it ‘medically' possible to be totally addicted to playing games online?

For many people … normally young men, playing games is a good escape from real life. I always wondered if hard core gamers people who perhaps had some real life, social related issues? It was therefore interesting this morning to read a report from John D. Sutter after he visited South Korea – the world's hot spot for ‘gaming addiction'.

John spoke to multiple people who spent all their spare time playing games and he found out that those he spoke to had contemplated suicide. They played games for up to 20 hours a day, which I didn't think was possible. Others he spoke with had damaged relationships with family members and another was unemployed and stuck in a rut.

Sutter at CNN spoke to Dr. Charles O'Brien, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Pennsylvania.

Within the interview, O'Brien said “We think (Internet addiction) is something. I even went to Beijing to visit a hospital that is dedicated to what the Chinese call Internet addiction, and it was full of young men who had been brought in by their parents because they had been spending hours a day and neglecting their studies and their health, even, playing these various games. Typically it's “World of Warcraft” that they're playing. But they don't really have what we consider to be evidence (that this is a disorder).”

The big question however, is Internet addiction a real, medically accepted problem? With incidents of people killing themselves in relation to gaming, surely it needs to be taken seriously?

O'Brien said “Even in my own family, I have a son who was 13 and 14 and was spending hours a day playing Internet games. They do it in groups. Their partners may be in China or Japan. They do it on the Internet. And they neglect their studies. Eventually, he kind of outgrew it, and now he's in college and is an honors student.

It's not a clear enough syndrome that you can say at this point it's clearly a disease — that it's an illness or a sickness. But we're open to that idea. Certainly, it does seem to be that way, but we have to have more evidence.”

If you want to read more on this, head over here.

Kitguru says: It would appear that as yet, the medical profession aren't willing to accept that Internet or gaming addition isn't a ‘disease' but more a concern.

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