Europe's first detox clinic for video game addicts is to open in Amsterdam, offering hope for gamers who simply can't stop pressing their buttons.
Keith Bakker, director of Smith & Jones Addiction Consultants, who will be running the in-house treatment centre, said that video games can be as addictive as gambling or drugs.
"We have kids who don't know how to communicate with people face-to-face because they've spent the past three years talking to somebody in Korea through a computer," he said. "Their social network has completely disappeared."
The detox programme is set to start in July, although Bakker has already treated 20 video game addicts aged 13-30 since January.
Bakker said that he had witnessed signs of addiction in children as young as eight years. "Many kids believe that when they sit down, they're going to play two games and then do their homework," he said.
However, unlike other addicts, most gamers receive their first game from their parents. "Because it's so new, parents don't see that this is something that can be dangerous," said Bakker.
Symptoms of addiction are apparently easy to spot. A few pointers include a person being neglectful of their usual activities, spending several hours at a time with the computer and having no social life.
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