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Video Gaming Addiction Up 66% in Netherlands

Eight Dutch electronic game addiction clinics treated 256 clients in 2011. Two years later, that number nearly doubled.

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By Bryan Le

02/18/14

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According to data obtained by the Netherlands Broadcasting Foundation from eight video gaming addiction clinics around the country, the number of patients seeking treatment for their gaming addiction rose by 66 percent—from 256 clients in 2011 to 426 in 2013. And the clients are getting younger.

The client base was mostly 15-year-olds, according to Jan Willem Poot of the Yes We Can Clinic, and in recent years their addictions have been getting more extreme: "Some of them are gaming 18 hours a day," Poot said. "They don't go to school, use a lot of drugs and are neglecting themselves."

A 2011 study by the Erasmus University Medical Center found that 1.5 percent of teenaged boys aged 13-16 were addicted to online games. That's about 12,000 children who play an average of eight hours a day, which led to lost sleep, receiving bad grades, and isolating themselves from family and friends. Despite the large increase in clientele, clinical workers at Verslavingszorg Noord Nederland believe there are more addicts out there who aren't receiving treatment due to the risk of being stigmatized. “Many parents and teachers think too lightly about the solution: pull the plug out and then it’s done," said Marius Naaburs, a team coach at a youth clinic. "But it doesn’t work that way. Gaming addiction treatment is comparable to alcohol- or drug-addiction."

Dutch Games Association president Horst Streck said that one gaming addict is "one too many" and believes video games designed to be addictive should have warning labels on the package. "In the total amount of young people, this is a small group," Streck said. "There's nothing wrong with most games, but with games such as World of Warcraft, where the social pressure is big to keep playing, a line is being crossed."

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