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Doctors warned on child screen addiction

Tuesday December 2nd, 2014

Video gaming among children is as much a threat to health as physical inactivity, an expert warns GPs today.

As well as causing inactivity, gaming may represent a kind of addiction called "screen addiction," according to child health expert Dr Aric Sigman, from Brighton, UK.

Dr Sigman urges GPs to consider using proposed new psychiatric classifications from the USA - where a disease called Internet Gaming Disorder has been proposed as a possible diagnosis by the American Psychiatric Association.

He says that about 10% of children aged 8 to 14 may be pathological gamers while 50% of students in the UK may suffer from problematic behaviour.

Writing in the British Journal of General Practice, Dr Sigman writes: "Given the scale of the problem and the fact that it affects children, pilot schemes within enhanced GP services involving screening, brief intervention, and onward referral where indicated, should be considered."

He says the NHS currently has one pilot programme for the problem at the Centre for Compulsive and Addictive Behaviours where gaming addiction and compulsive internet use can be treated.

He says interventions should seek to use prevention before treatment.

He writes: "With recent evidence of the significant effects of ‘maternal media monitoring’, mothers must now be encouraged to ‘nag'."

BJGP 2 December 2014; doi: 10.3399/bjgp14X682597

Tags: Child Health | Mental Health | UK News

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