Desperate parents are sending their kids to video game rehab over 'Fortnite' addiction
'Video game addiction' has been thrown around for years now, whether it's someone warning of the potential pitfalls on a public platform, or your parents telling you to turn your console off and go outside.
But it seems as if it has become a more substantial threat recently, with the World Health Organization even classifying it as an official mental disorder back in June this year.
One of the most popular games in the world right now (if not the most) is Fortnite, which has over 200 million people registered. A lot of this comes down to the fact it is free-to-play (though with optional purchases in-game), but now there are some gamers who are so obsessed with it their parents are sending them to rehab.
For instance, Debbie Vitany's 17-year-old, Carson, was reportedly playing the game up to 12 hours a day. Teachers ended up complaining that he would fall asleep in class, with his grades plummeting fast.
“We’d made some progress in getting him to cut down his Fortnite hours and get better sleep, but he’s slipped back into his old habits,” the mother said. “I’ve never seen a game that has such control over kids’ minds.”
“This game is like heroin,” said behavioural specialist Lorrine Marer, who works with children fighting game addiction, said. “Once you are hooked, it’s hard to get unhooked.”
It's not just children either. Even the National Hockey League’s Vancouver Canucks had trouble getting their players be on time to events, to the point that they banned Fortnite on the road. David Price, pitcher for the Boston Red Sox, didn't make the May start against the New York Yankees because of wrist problems which were supposedly exacerbated by playing the game.
Child psychologist Randy Kulman has said that he has seen a surge in parents taking their children to counselling due to Fortnite. “I had a 13-year-old in my office who said he had 300 Fortnite wins,” he said. “I had to stop for a minute and calculate what he had to invest just to get those.”
One student who dropped out of school at 15 because of his own addiction to video games, Cam Adair, now speaks on the subject at schools, trying to raise awareness. “It’s World War III if a parent asks their son to come to dinner because if they leave they lose,” Adair said. I'm sure many of you have memories of having to abort a game for dinner in frustration - but some take it much further.
Michael Jacobus works with kids who are addicted to video games, visiting children in camps in Santa Barba, Northa Carolina and California. According to him, around 60 percent of the 120 children he spoke to were playing Fortnite excessively - something which can also be expensive, given how some parents may not know their credit card is tied to a games console.
The treatment itself involves a detox of sorts, where the devices are taken away - before routines of healthy eating, sleep and group therapy help treat the addiction.