CHILDREN as young as 12 will be among the patients at the first NHS-funded gaming addiction clinic when it starts work next month.
Players due to receive help are so hooked that their obsession has led to them missing school and has harmed relationships with family and friends.
Experts will use sessions with them to develop a model for diagnosing and treating gaming disorders that can be rolled out across Britain.
Psychiatrist Henrietta Bowden-Jones, the clinic’s founder, said: ‘We’ll record in depth everything we can in order to develop the largest database in the country to better understand the illness.
‘They are different to gamblers or alcoholics. It’s a younger generation. As it doesn’t involve substances, the neurological processes will be different.’
About eight patients aged 12 to 20 have been recruited so far for the clinic set up by Central and North West London NHS Trust. Prof Bowden-Jones hopes to have 15 on the books by the time sessions begin.
She aims to create ratings that show how violent a game is, how much it triggers addictive reward mechanisms and how likely it is to disrupt sleep.
The ratings would help inform parents and doctors when they are monitoring what their children are playing.
‘We will be treating people without understanding what is wrong with the products,’ Dr Bowden-Jones told the Daily Telegraph.
‘That is why we need different categories so we can focus on those that are potentially the most harmful.’
Meanwhile, a boy of 17 has told the Daily Mirror he made an attempt to take his own life after becoming addicted to multi-platform hit Fortnite.
He had begun using amphetamines so he could stay awake to play, and ended up deciding death was the only way to escape his obsession.