First rehab service for video game and internet addicts

Doctors have opened the first dedicated clinic in Britain to treat children hooked on video games and other technology...

Doctors have opened the first dedicated clinic in Britain to treat children addicted to video games and other technology.

Capio Nightingale Hospital, a private facility in Central London, introduced the Young Person Technology Addiction Service after calls from parents concerned about their children’s use of games, the internet, or mobile phones.

A spokeswoman for the hospital said the service would be offered for children as young as 12 but those aged 15 to 17 are expected to be the main target group. Richard Graham, a consultant psychiatrist who is leading the new clinic, added that although other clinics provided treatment for young people as part of general addiction treatments, services needed to ‘adapt quickly’ to specifically address problems linked to technology.

Dr Graham, who also sees NHS patients, said some parents reported that their children flew ‘into a rage’ when they were told to turn off their computer, and police had even been called to sort out the rows.

However, others are unconvinced: Richard Wood, a researcher at Nottingham Trent University, argued in 2008 that video game addiction was a ‘myth‘.

‘Some people are being mislabelled addicts by concerned parents, partners or others when they have no problems with their game-playing behaviour. Some people who are concerned about their own behaviour… end up labelling themselves as video game addicts,’ he said.

In other news, a service has been set up in the US to combat internet addiction in adults. More than a dozen clients in Denver have paid $14,000 each to find a cure for their computer dependence with recovery programme reStart.



reSTART executive Cosette Dawna Rae says she has already seen a steady stream of patients since opening the doors several months ago. She says the problem is getting worse, pointing to last week’s arrest of a South Korean couple who police say spent so much time playing an internet game about raising a virtual child that their own child was left to starve to death.



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