19/01/2012 01:12 GMT | Updated 19/03/2012 05:12 GMT

Internet And Video Game Addicts Need NHS Help, Claims Senior MP

The NHS should offer support to people addicted to the internet and video games, the chairman of the Commons Home Affairs Select Committee has said.

In a parliamentary motion, Keith Vaz warned that emotions, decision-making ability and self-control were affected as a result of the addiction.

The Labour MP's motion, which also had the backing of Liberal Democrat Sir Bob Russell, said they were "deeply concerned" by research "which suggests that frequently using the internet or video games can have a physical effect on the brain, similar to that of drugs or alcohol".

The research found "both neuronal connections between brain areas and brain functions including emotions, decision-making and self-control are affected", the MPs said.

They called for further research and for "the NHS to provide effective support to those who suffer from internet or gaming


This is not the first time Keith Vaz has voiced his concerns about the effects of video games. Last year he criticised the "gratuitous acts of violence" depicted in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3.

Last year researchers at Indiana University found sustained changes in the region of the brain associated with cognitive function and emotional control in young adult men after one week of playing violent video games.

Mr Vaz added: "I am alarmed by recent research which has suggested that excessive use of the internet and video games can have an effect on the brain.

"Much more research needs to be done on the potentially harmful effects of overexposure to the internet and video games.

"In the most extreme cases, people have neglected to feed their children and suffered fatal deep vein thrombosis as a result of the extended time spent at their computer or games console.

"This needs to be recognised as a serious problem by the Government. Such behaviour can destroy lives and treatment and support should be available as it is for any other lifestyle problem which impacts upon mental or physical health."