Ever since the World Health Organization decided to formally recognize gaming disorder as a mental illness, there has been increased scrutiny on game addiction and its impact, particularly when it comes to children. The skyrocketing popularity of Fortnite has led to that game being blamed for many children’s gaming addictions, with Dr. Michael Rich, the director of the Clinic for Interactive Media and Internet Disorders at Boston Children’s Hospital, saying the game has resulted in real-life dangerous behavior.
One example cited by Dr. Rich was a child whose parents apparently took away whatever device he was using to play Fortnite. Believing that his parents had locked the device inside the family car, the child “destroyed” the vehicle by smashing the windshield with a hammer. It hasn’t been clarified if the gaming device was actually inside of the car or not, and it also hasn’t been made clear if the child was playing Fortnite on console, mobile, or PC.
An image of the destroyed car is unavailable, likely due to patient confidentiality issues. However, the example of a child destroying the family car with a hammer isn’t the only thing Dr. Rich has observed while treating patients at Boston Children’s Hospital. “They are not sleeping. They are not going to school. They are dropping out of social activities. A lot of kids have stopped playing sports so they can do this,” he said to the Boston Globe. There has also been a problem with Fortnite-addicted children and teenagers not eating so that they don’t have to stop playing the game.
An unwillingness to stop playing the game at all, even for important tasks like eating, is something that has been echoed in previous reports about Fortnite addiction. In the case of the young girl that went to rehab for Fortnite addiction, her parents said that she wouldn’t stop playing the game even to go to the bathroom.
“It’s similar to working with parents who have a child addicted to drugs,” said Rich Domenico, who works as a therapist at LiveWell Therapy Associates, also located in Boston, MA. Domenico said sometimes the stress from treating a child with Fortnite addiction is enough that parents have considered divorce.
The Boston Globe reached out to psychology professor Douglas Gentile for further insight into Fortnite addiction. Gentile provided the following explanation for Fortnite addiction in children: “The psychological manipulation stimulates the brain and trains it to ‘crave’ more.”
While the vast majority of video gamers will not suffer from game addiction or similar disorders, it’s clearly a major issue for those that do experience it. Now that gaming disorder has been recognized by the World Health Organization, hopefully more research is conducted to better understand the problem and how to treat it.
Source: Boston Globe