A UK-based charity treatment group is preparing for what they believe will become the next major addiction issue: Video Games.
Norcas, which has been supporting those affected by addictive behaviours in Norfolk, UK since 1978, recently commissioned an independent study into gaming and addictive behaviour to prepare for what they believe will be a rising social problem. Their study found that more than a third of those surveyed above the age of 16 think they know of at least one person addicted to gaming. Nearly 40 per cent of those under 16 thought they know of at least one video game addict, according to the Norwich Evening News.
Before you start getting defensive, keep in mind that this is an organisation that seems to have a level-headed approach to both addiction and how video games fit into society.
"If played responsibly, gaming is a good pastime, but we need people to be aware of the problems that will arise if the gaming takes hold," Maggie Williams, chief executive of Norcas told the Evening News. "It is a generational issue, with almost 100pc of young people engaging in gaming."
Rather than using their resources and the results of this survey to demonize games or the people who play them, Norcas is reminding parents that they need to set reasonable guidelines for their children. The group also says they support responsible gaming.
This reminds me of the Australian mother who, after working with the courts, schools and social workers about her game-addicted son, wrote in to the local paper for help. That story, which we covered here, spurred a passionate conversation on our site and more than a few personal stories of game addiction were posted on Kotaku and emailed to me.
As video games continue their move from fringe hobby to an inescapable part of modern culture, these are the sorts of issues that both the people who play games and those who make them are going to need to take seriously.
Are video games akin to drugs or alcohol? Absolutely not. Can they be damaging if people over indulge in them? Absolutely.