23rd May 2014 – Friday Magazine – The Dangers of Digital Addiction

In London, Nightingale Hospital has responded to a surge in adolescents addicted to gaming by launching the UK’s first technology addiction programme.

Dedicated technology addiction specialists are treating young people with individual programmes that address their issues with being unable to disconnect from their devices. It includes relaxation therapy and addresses managing the buzz they get from prolonged gaming.

UK-based consultant Dr Richard Graham says that computer games are so engrossing that an increasing number of teens are struggling to switch off and engage with real life.

With games moving online and merging with social media, the addiction is growing, he says.

“Gaming now involves virtual communities and the ability to adopt different personas,’’ he explains.

“Players tend to develop a sense of achievement in these virtual worlds, and they start to fear that this success will diminish if they are not online.’’

Dr Graham admits that there are positive benefits to gaming, such as brain training, which is playing games that challenge our minds to function better. It has been suggested that brain training can help with disorders such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), but the right balance is crucial.

“When electronic devices start to have more influence over behaviour than anyone or anything else, you need to start changing things,” says Dr Graham.

“If a child has tantrums when technology is taken away from them, and they don’t get the same buzz doing any other activities, their relationship with technology isn’t being managed properly.”

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