Duty of care: Boy, 10, so addicted to video games he stopped going to toilet to stay online and damaged his bowel

Charles Hymas
Two boys playing video games - www.Alamy.com

A 10-year-old boy was so addicted to video gaming he had to be treated in hospital for a distended bowel and bladder that ballooned out of his pelvis after he stopped going to the toilet to stay on the games, a top paediatrician revealed yesterday.

Dr Jo Begent, a consultant paediatrician at University College Hospital (UCH) in London, said the boy was playing World of Warcraft, Call of Duty and Fifa eight hours at a time with his gaming addict father and become so seriously constipated his bowel and bladder stopped functioning.

She told the NSPCC’s annual conference yesterday that when the boy arrived at the clinic, she initially thought the hard “craggy mass” protruding out of his pelvis was a cancer but an MRI scan revealed it was the distended bowel and bladder.

Dr Begent, who is also an NSPCC trustee, said it was the worst of a regular flow of cases she has to deal with of children addicted to gaming or social media, with each accounting for one or two cases a month, including some where the child had dropped out of school.

She said the case showed gaming and social media was not only damaging the mental, emotional and educational wellbeing of children but also harming their physical health.

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It comes only days after the World Health Organisation (WHO) classified gaming disorder as a medical condition, enabling people suffering from it to be treated on the NHS.

Dr Begent told The Daily Telegraph: “His father was addicted to gaming and had facilitated his children becoming addicted to video games. The boy was an incredibly gifted footballer but he and his son used to game together.

“As a result, he had become extraordinarily constipated and his bowel and bladder had become dilated and dysfunctional. You could feel it. It felt like a craggy mass that was like a cancer with a hardened wall.

“We treated him with laxatives and used various techniques with my urology colleagues to help him regain control of his bladder. He also had masses and masses of psychological help.”

It has taken two years of treatment and support on the NHS to wean him off his addiction and stabilise his family life. He was still “not 100%” but was playing games in a more settled way.

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She said the other children she treated suffered sleep deprivation after spending all night gaming or on social media. “As a result of that there are school issues and children falling out of school,” she added.

She believed parents had an important role to play but the firms also had the technology for automated time limits on the games which could be a way to tackle the problem.

The level of violence was also unnecessary: “It seems inconsistent that zombie knives are being removed from the streets but we have a level of violence on these games that is unacceptable.”

Porn sites to introduce new age verification

All the main porn sites have agreed to introduce new age verification procedures to bar under 18s from their sites later this year, Murray Perkins, of the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) told the conference.

He said sites from PornHub to Penthouse and Playboy had agreed procedures where users will be expected to provide proof of identity and age as required by the Digital Economy Act.

Those that fail will face being blocked from mobiles or fixed lines in the UK. BBFC will also have powers to halt payments to the sites with support of the main companies such as Paypal and Visa. “We are confident it is going to work,” said Mr Perkins.