Consultations for addiction to video games quadruple at Bellvitge Hospital

Although over the past decade, the Pathological Gambling and Behavioral Addictions Unit. of Bellvitge University Hospital (HUB) received a growing number of inquiries related to excessive use of video games, Since 2021, the numbers have skyrocketed. More specifically, over the past year, this type of consultation has made it possible to rose from 3.5% of the total to 15.4%. According to experts, this sharp increase could be one of the consequences of covid-19 confinement on mental health in the medium and long term. Most studies suggest that massively multiplayer, online, role-playing and multiplayer video games are the most common form of mental health problems. those with the most overuse issues generate.

Video games are entertaining, motivating, challenging and fun. However, a abusive use can become a major disorder. Video game addiction is a clinical reality. In fact, the latest scientific evidence indicates that approximately 3% of population are likely to suffer from this type of behavioral addiction, with serious consequences in the personal, family, social, professional and/or academic spheres.

According to the team from the Pathological Gambling and Behavioral Addictions Unit (without substance) at Bellvitge Hospital, the warning signs are the relevance in the person’s lifethe site loss of self control and withdrawal from other social, leisure, work, or school activities. “Until patients and families recognize that the passion for video games is actually an addiction, they don’t go to healthcare facilities and self-help associations, and that can take months,” he explains. Susana Jimenez, head of unit and researcher at IDIBELL.

Jiménez points out that, although the traditionally associated with the male sex, they receive more and more requests from girls.

“In the right context and with a a healthy mode of use, Video games can be educational, increase certain skills and abilities, improve self-esteem and social relationships, and even practice languages. But, at the same time, we must recognize and prevent negative impact that they may have as a result of misuse, and as a society we must assume a shared responsibility to promote the healthy use of new technologies”, insists Susana Jiménez.

Loot boxes, the thin line of gambling addiction

Some video games allow you to buy “loot boxes”, which are virtual items that produce rewards randomly when “purchased”, either through hours of play or by paying a real amount of money.

From a psychological point of view, “there is similarities between addiction gambling and this type of video game, because they encourage the spending of money on items that are not purchased, but are the product of a process of transformation. computer algorithm, according to pathological gambling expert Bellvitge.

The website uncertainty and the excitement Purchasing these “loot boxes” makes it easier to repeat the habit of seeking the desired reward. As with gambling, positive reward reinforcement has an impact on health. intermittent and variable pattern (with an unknown outcome), and more and more money is being spent trying to make up for what was invested. Some authors claim that “loot boxes” may represent the… transition from healthy use of video games to problematic use, or even the switch to gambling.

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