A recent report on www.thefix.com highlighted the growth in gaming addiction in Asia. What is driving this trend? With an estimated 84 million of the world’s 1.2 billion gamers living in Asia, there is an immense population of gamers whose hobby has become an addiction.
There isn’t an official figure, but with estimates of between 2 and 25 percent of those who play games being addicts, it is potentially huge. This problem most often affects high school and university students, who play games as a diversion to school life. But what starts as a hobby can have negative consequences on school, work, health, and relationships. And in extreme cases, it can even result in violence and fatality, as recent headlines have publicized.
One of the more shocking headlines include a gamer poisoning his parents for placing a curfew on his gaming. This resulted in their death. In another case, a married couple left their 3 month old daughter to die while they played online games. While the couple played online with their own simulated children, their real life child died of dehydration. Finally, in another tragic turn, there are reports of homicide and violence committed as revenge for the murder of a player’s online identity. This is due to players’ immense emotional attachment to their online persona, who they may have spent years creating.
In response to the growing problem, numerous governmental and private treatments have been devised. Some approaches are punitive, such as taking away youngsters’ privileges. Others cited are more severe, such as electroshock therapy and beatings. Amidst these rather harsh approaches, more humane methods are also being implemented, such as counselling and outdoor recreation.
South Korea, which is reputed to have one of Asia’s worst internet addiction problems, has even implemented a curfew at cyber cafés for those under 18. It has also extended treatment programs to those with this problem, and official figures show a decrease in the number of addicts.
However, while South Korea has managed to reduce the number of addicts among youngsters, there seems to be a growing problem for those in their 20s and 30s. According to Dr. Ha Jee-hyun, a psychiatrist at Konkuk University Hospital, adult gamers grew up with games and use them as an escape when they have issues such as unemployment or isolation.
There is limited subsidized treatment available for adults in South Korea. And in other countries, treatment is also scarce. Dr. David Greenfield, a specialist in gaming addiction treatment, says that there are only 3 specialty clinics treating gaming disorders in the United States.
At the Cabin, we are proud to offer world class treatment for this and other addictions. Combining cognitive and behavioral approaches with holistic mind-body care, we have an impressive record of successful treatment. If you are seeking treatment for addiction, we recommend seeking professional counseling.