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The dangers lurking in young people's online games revealed

It’s no secret that more teenagers than ever are playing online video games, but for some, entertainment has become a major issue.

A new study from Macquarie University found that nearly 3% of teens may have a diagnosable condition known as Internet Gaming Disorder (IGD).

IGD has been included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) since 2013.

In a study of about 1,000 teens, about 10% had a “problem” with video games, and a further 3% showed signs of IGD.

“Anyone can become addicted to screens, but my research shows that children have problems with impulse control and lack of basic needs (self-esteem, inclusion, satisfaction with things). The risk is higher when the (what you know and what you can control) is better met: online than offline,” said study author Wayne Warburton, Associate Professor.

A new study of 1,000 teenagers found that just under 3% had signs of Internet Gaming Disorder (IGD).Photography/Fortnite

Earlier this year, the same team published a series of case studies with children aged 11-13. This includes excessive use of video games including Minecraft, Roblox, Fortnite, Call of Duty, or Counter Strike: Global Offensive and other digital media such as social media.

Cases included threats of self-harm and physical violence against parents when their screen of choice was withheld.

Young people who have not yet fully developed their willpower and self-control are particularly at risk of falling into harmful behavior patterns.

“Online interactions do not provide the same level of complex mental stimulation and physical contact as meeting in-person friends,” Warburton said.

“A lot of what we do in games and social media is repetitive and doesn’t use a lot of brainpower.”

He explained that excessive use of video games can cause brain atrophy. This was detectable in brain scans of heavy screen users.

Excessive gaming can also cause brain atrophy, which can be detected in brain scans in heavy screen users.

Excessive gaming can also cause brain atrophy, which can be detected in brain scans in heavy screen users.

“The brain is the ultimate use-or-lose organ. It changes by the second. When we are working hard, the brain develops new connections to keep up. If not, it probably loses connectivity,” he said.

“It’s a concern for people of all ages, but it’s especially concerning for the still-developing brain.”

Warning signs of IGD include teens spending more time in the bedroom, declining academic performance, lying about how much time they spend playing games, and abandoning once-enjoyed pastimes and friendships.

Affected individuals may become tired, irritable, and even aggressive or violent when someone tries to get between them and the game.

Macquarie’s team is recruiting volunteers to test a new treatment program for problematic games designed in collaboration with academics from the University of Hamburg.

The survey will be held in mid-October on the Central Coast of New South Wales and is free. However, eligible participants must be able to travel to Wyong and attend 13-16 sessions.

– Duncan Murray,