Computer games in curfew: addiction risk or means of social distancing?
Christian Pfeiffer, a criminologist and former head of the Lower Saxony Criminological Research Institute, warns that gambling addiction among children and adolescents could become an increasing problem during the Corona crisis. The Neue Osnabrücker Zeitung reported this today. Meanwhile, WHO supports a pro-gaming campaign on Twitter.
Problematic gaming behavior is exacerbated
Children and adolescents are particularly affected by a dependency on computer games. Even before the crisis, the playing behavior of many young people was problematic.
According to a study by DAK-Gesundheit and the German Center for Addiction Issues in 2019, 72.5% of 12- to 17-year-olds played on the computer regularly. 15.4% of the adolescents had problematic gaming behavior. Criminologist Pfeiffer warns:
“In Lower Saxony, every fourth male teenager plays four and a half hours and more every day … This is a problem that is now exacerbated by Corona.”
In view of closed schools, curfews and bans on contacts, the number of those who play a significant part of their time on the computer increases, according to Pfeiffer.
A union of 18 players in the gaming industry, including Riot Games, YouTube Gaming and Snap Games, has meanwhile called on computer game enthusiasts to gamble.
With their “Play together separately” campaign, the organizers want to get people to follow the WHO recommendations on social distancing. A common computer game on the Internet counteracts social isolation during the curfew, the campaign said.
For this purpose, the creators of the campaign announce special promotions, special events and innovations during the crisis, which players should bring to the computer.
As the editorial network Germany reported, the World Health Organization (WHO) supports the campaign: Gaming is an activity through which people can interact socially in a safe manner.
2018: WHO declares video game addiction to be an official disease
Just two years ago, the World Health Organization had included video game addiction as an official disease in its Diseases Catalog (IDC-11). A person is considered to be addicted to games if they neglect their everyday life, education, family and friends to play on the computer.
Criticism of the “Play Apart Together” call followed promptly: It was irresponsible to encourage children and young people who were already spending their day in the virtual classroom to play more on the computer, according to a Twitter user in response to the WHO Ambassador Raymond-Chambers called.
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