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  1. ITV Report

Children as young as 12 to be treated at country's first NHS-funded gaming addiction centre

A young boy playing a virtual reality game. Credit: PA

The first NHS-funded gaming addiction centre starts work in September and will have children as young as 12 receiving treatment.

A group of youngsters picked for the trial are so addicted to games it has kept them off school and harmed their relationships with family and friends.

In June, The World Health Organisation (WHO) announced that gaming addiction was classified as a mental health illness, which paved the way for the NHS.

Researchers aim to create a model for diagnosing and treating gaming disorders among young people that can be rolled out across the UK.

Experts at the Central and North West London NHS trust are hoping to recruit 15 patients and around half, aged 12 to 20, have been identified.

Experts at the Central and North West London NHS trust are hoping to recruit 15 patients to tackle gaming addiction. Credit: PA

Clinic founder Henrietta Bowden-Jones, an eminent addiction psychiatrist, told the Daily Telegraph the patients will be assessed to increase understanding of the disorders.

"They are different to gamblers or alcoholics. It’s a younger generation. As it doesn’t involve substances, the neurological processes will be different," she said.

Dr Bowden-Jones also proposes to develop a rating system that will help assess how addictive a game may be.

The six-point scale would help label games for their compulsiveness, violent tendencies, capacity for sleep disruption and addictive reward mechanisms.

A group of youngsters picked for the trial are so addicted to games it has kept them off school. Credit: PA

Gaming addiction and the amount of time children and young people spend online have come under increased scrutiny after reports of individuals becoming severely hooked on tech.

A 17-year-old boy told the Daily Mirror he had been left suicidal after becoming addicted to multi-platform hit Fortnite.

The teenager, Carl Thompson, said he turned to taking amphetamines in order to stay awake and play the game.

"I just had to escape this existence, and the only way I knew how was to kill myself," he told the newspaper.

His father added: "We honestly had no idea any of this was going on until the night Carl tried to kill himself."

The amount of time young people spend online and gaming have come under increased scrutiny. Credit: PA

Parents and clinicians would be able to use the system when monitoring what games children are playing.

Dr Bowden-Jones explains: "We will be treating people without understanding what is wrong with the products. That is why we need different categories so we can focus on those that are potentially the most harmful."