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One in four teens ?addicted to video games?

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15:55 CET+01:00
Almost one out of every four teenagers aged 11 to 16 say they are hooked on video and computer games.

In a study commissioned by 'Fair Play', an organisation of concerned parents, 20 percent of the 2143 teenagers polled reported that they became restless and irritated when play was interrupted and 25 percent had tried to cut down, but couldn't.

Surprisingly, however, 75% managed to put school and homework before playing computer and TV games, but the researchers say that this figure decreases for every additional hour the individual spends playing.

"We have been surprised to find that teenagers themselves experience their behaviour as negative", says Maria Agrell who headed up the project for Fair Play. She adds; "It is important that we don't increase the sense of fear around game playing because in essence TV and computer games are fine. But we can't close our eyes to the problems".

Of all the teenagers that took part in the research only 6% didn't play any games at all, while 25% played daily, and another 6% played more than 5 hours a day. Boys are the keenest players, and choose more violent games. The group that plays more than 5 hours a day feel that their habit has become a problem, with 30 percent in that group reporting that they have not been able to reduce their playing successfully.

Fair Play believes that parents can play an important role when it comes to helping their children combat the downside of gaming and this was confirmed by the research. But the youngsters who spent most time on the computer were least interested in parental control.

"Other research shows that parents feel they don't have any control over their children's paying behaviour and they don't know where to go for help," says Maria Agrell. She suggests that the government would support a games addition helpline set up especially for teenagers.

However, in Svenska Dagbladet on Friday there was another view on the addiction; "It's not the games that are addictive - it's the friends ", said Nicole Lazzaro, one of the world's leading authorities on games addiction. She is in town for the Future design conference and suggests that there is a strong social aspect to playing computer games.

"People who play computer games together show far more emotions that those that play alone. For many it's a way of being with their friends, and it's the friends, not the game that is addictive."

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