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Teenager With Fortnite Addiction Hospitalized for Two Months
By Robert Lea
On 9/16/21 at 11:47 AM EDT
A 15-year-old boy was hospitalized for two months as a result of an addiction to the online video game Fortnite. A research team from Spain treated the teenager for internet gaming addiction.
In a paper published in the Revista de Psiquiatría Infanto-Juvenil (Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry), the team reported that the boy required hospitalization and "detoxification" as a result of what they describe as "a serious behavioral addiction to the Fortnite video game."
After the teenager began to become isolated at home, refused to interact socially, lost interest in his surroundings, and would not seek medical help, the researchers decided he should be hospitalized, according to a press release from Jaume I University.
The specialists who treated the teenager said in the study that they do not consider video games to be a problem in themselves, and that proper use can be socially and educationally beneficial. Video games, they said, could be therapeutic for some disorders.
According to the press release, the team said that children's screen use should be monitored. They also advised setting clear and well-defined boundaries, and encouraging children to seek other forms of entertainment.
Creating spaces for families to enjoy group activities and restricting devices in children's rooms could help prevent behavioral issues arising as a result of gaming addictions, the researchers said.
The researchers said in the paper that they treated the teenager with a multidisciplinary approach including cognitive behavioral therapy and worked with him and his family to help the boy realize the effect gaming was having on his life.
"The results show a significant decrease in gaming use time, as well as an improvement in the patient's personal and social functioning," they said.
With regards to Fornite in particular, the press release said that the authors believe that its addictive potential could stem from several factors. These include the imposition of deadlines to achieve the challenges of each season, the desire not to lose progress, and the access to live streaming that allows others to comment on gaming techniques and strategies.
The World Health Organization recognizes gaming addiction as "impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming over other activities to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities, and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences."
It says that to be diagnosed with the condition there must be a 12-month pattern severe enough to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.
The case is reminiscent of that of a North London teenager which was reported by The Telegraph in 2018.
For over a year, the boy refused to go to school and had lost his confidence The Telegraph reported. His mother, Kendal Palmer, said that she had spent three years seeking help for her son as well as trying to get the National Health Service in the U.K. to recognize his condition.
Before the addiction developed her son had been academically successful, securing a place for gifted children at his school, and highly social, including captaining his county rugby team, she said. Upon becoming more heavily involved in online gaming, she said he became reclusive.
"Every moment he's awake, he wants to be on a game. There is no outside world. It has become all-consuming" Palmer told The Telegraph in 2018. "He has great mates [online] and he is having fun running virtual worlds and non-existent kingdoms but it's not real. It's become so real that there's nothing outside it anymore."
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