Counsellors sent in to help pupils with with computer games problems

COUNSELLORS are being sent into Somerset schools to warn pupils of the perils of video games after a shocking questionnaire revealed children as young as 11 are spending up to eight hours a day playing them.

The survey, carried out among Priory Community School students, also shows that youngsters admit their personal hygiene, health and eating habits are among the things suffering because of the time spent with their consoles.

The questionnaire, put together by addiction specialists at Broadway Lodge rehabilitation centre in Bleadon, shows that some children in North Somerset are in danger of developing a dangerous addiction to their Xbox or Playstation.

Experts at the Totterdown Lane complex, which specialises in treating gambling problems, say the issue is set to get worse as younger and younger children become glued to their controllers.

Following the results, counsellors have been asked to hold workshops and assemblies with the Priory pupils, as well as parents, at the Queens Way site to try and nip the problem in the bud and other Somerset schools have since been in touch to ask for the same.

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Broadway Lodge Ltd development director, Peter Smith, said: “The biggest problem seems to be the type of gaming where children are competing against other children via the internet.

“There seems to be the appeal of the social interaction and the fantasy of those relationships.

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“Most people drink and most of the time this is fun and enjoyable – but a small percentage get into real difficulty – this can be applied to gaming.

“The problem tends to be with young males – it’s about the adrenaline and the excitement.

“It creeps up on us.

“The culture that we live in means that we believe children are not safe outside on their own, so they are inside and up in their rooms instead and parents get lulled into thinking computer games are harmless fun.

“The odd one or two stay up late and then find difficulty getting up and that affects their education.

“The problem is going to get worse.

“With games on mobile phones it will become more mobile.

“Priory has been brilliant and keen to help as much as possible – the school has taken a lead on raising awareness of this problem.

“Parents can contact me ay Broadway Lodge if they have any concerns.”

Broadway Lodge, which also treats alcohol and drug addiction and eating disorders, most recently became the only residential facility in the country to provide short-term treatment for gambling addictions.

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