Growing numbers of parents whose children play computer games have been expressing concerns to their pediatricians about the addictive nature of the software. Adults are also falling prey to the phenomenon.
"With each new generation of computer game comes players who can't seem to get enough of it," said a Silicon Valley therapist.
"There has been a substantial increase in gamers with failing health checking themselves into rehab centers," she said. "These people are so completely involved in their games that they spend eighteen hours a day at their computers and can't even escape dreaming about playing them while asleep."
Popular games such as America's Army, World of Warcraft, and Everquest appear to be the most addictive with children. Among adults, the recently released pornographic adventure Dating Around is a primary culprit.
Much of the addiction stems from the social nature of some of the games, report child psychologists across the nation. Others are drawn to the taboo behaviors many games encourage.
"Combine killing with online conversation and you get a powerful combination of addictive factors," said the therapist.
Parents are in an uproar over the computer industry's apparent lack of concern.
"We design games to keep people playing," said one programmer. "If someone becomes too involved, all they need to do is turn off their computer."
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