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Thousands caught in Web of addiction; Porn and gaming blamed for rise in compulsive use of the inter


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Thousands caught in Web of addiction; Porn and gaming blamed for rise in compulsive use of the inter published by Evanvinh
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Posted on 2016-03-18
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Byline: Mark Blunden Technology Reporter

TENS of thousands of Londoners are addicted to the internet after becoming obsessed with gaming, pornography and social media, a leading psychiatrist warned today.

An increasing number are believed to be compulsive web users, with parents of children as young as 14 seeking help from the NHS-run National Problem Gambling Clinic.

Experts now want to create the UK's first centre for internet disorders in Fulham after a successful pilot project.

One hundred internet addicts were treated, some of whom racked up 50 hours of "pathological" internet use each week -- "hardly speaking" to their family, watching porn at work, or playing online games for 14 hours straight. The clinic's director, consultant psychiatrist Henrietta Bowden-Jones, said she had seen an increasing number of requests from Londoners for help. There is currently no NHS money to fund a full-time internet addiction service due to mental health cuts.

Dr Bowden-Jones said: "By the time the addiction has taken over, people can forget to eat. If you find yourself spending three or four hours a day on the internet to the detriment of other social or physical activities, avoiding family dinners or going out with your partner to enjoy a film or meal out, when you stop reading books or magazines because all you are thinking about is this preoccupation with the internet, it is time to start changing behaviours. It's a compulsion that doesn't allow you to take stock of the fact it's now 5am, or your wife is shouting at you, or you haven't fed your kids because you are online.

"We see people who prefer their virtual life to daily reality, who can arrive extremely obese and haven't moved for weeks, or I have seen people who are extremely thin and malnourished. People have lost their job or dropped out of university."

The largest British study of its kind, conducted by Nottingham Trent University academics in 2013, found that 3.2 per cent of student respondents to a screening test were classified as "addicted to the internet".

A separate EU-funded study of 11,356 adolescents from Austria, Estonia, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Romania, Slovenia and Spain found 4.2 per cent were pathological internet users. Fears that "tens of thousands" of Londoners are addicted are a projection based on these two studies. Dr Bowden-WATCH VIDEO standard.

Jones hopes the gaming industry will help fund the new centre, which will include greater research into the problem. "Even if the gaming industry donated 0.05 per cent of their profits towards treatment, we could create a clinic for the best evidence-based centre for treatment, prevention, education and research," she said.

For treatment, psychologists use cognitive behavioural therapy, which has been shown to be effective for internet disorders.

Gale Document Number: GALE|A444940613



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