Video game addiction ‘leading to irreversible brain changes in kids’

The brains of Australian children are being irrevocably shaped and changed due to extensive time spent video gaming, experts warn.

Speaking to 60 Minutes reporter Tara Brown, education coach Jill Sweatman described the impact of excessive gaming as dire and long term, leading to what is called “planned brain death”.

“That occurs from the time the child is almost born. It’s already getting rid of brain cells that are not being used,” Sweatman explained.

“What worries me most is that if so much time is devoted to just entertainment, under the auspices, the control of game designers, over a long period of time, what are we really losing?

“And those brain cells can’t be gotten back in later life.”

Sweatman’s warning came as part of 60 Minutes investigation into video gaming addiction in Australia.

Studies have shown that 90 percent of adolescents play video games and 15 percent show signs of addiction – physiological traits that are similar to pathological gamblers.

The World Health Organisation this year recognised gaming addiction as a legitimate disease, but it is not yet a diagnosable condition in Australia – resulting in many families struggling to cope or receive suitable treatment.

Thousands of teenagers across the nation are battling everything from social anxiety, depression and violent outbursts as their addiction with the video gaming world continues to grow.

For 14-year-old Logan, his two-year obsession with gaming has come at the expense of almost everything else.

He no longer plays sport, sees his friends and – most alarmingly – hasn’t been to school since he was 12.

When asked if he was addicted to gaming, Logan was defiant.

“I don’t feel like I’m addicted at all,” he said.

“I do have control. I just choose to stay on it this long.”

Logan’s desperate mother, Britta, however believes her son is a video game addict for which he wears a terrible cost.

“Withdrawn, angry, depressed, anxious, completely different,” she told 60 Minutes.

“It’s not the boy I know.

“I mean he’d be the one that would be the first to hook up his fishing rod and go camping, or soccer.

“Now? No. Can’t get him outside.”

Like Logan, 13-year-old Sam is trapped in a fantasy realm of high octane and violent games and has missed vital time off school.

So far this year, Sam has attended only four week’s worth of classes and in his time off, he has been caught stealing from his family to pay for gaming credits.

“In the space of six or eight weeks I think he’d managed to clock up over $350,” Sam’s mother Joanne revealed.

Originally Published by 9News, continue reading here.

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