“I call it a silent addiction,” Parmar told the Telegraph. “If you were shooting up in a park, everyone would care a lot more because it disrupts society. If he was drunk and driving a motorbike, everyone would care. But no-one cares if he is sitting in his bedroom.”
The mum-of-five has spent three years fighting to get her son’s condition officially recognised by the NHS. Private treatment would have cost upwards of £350 per session.
Having tried everything she believes possible to break his addiction including putting a safe in her bedroom to lock up his phone and computer, and multiple parental control devices, her son was forced to spend eight weeks in hospital recovering.
In an interview with the Telegraph the mum described how her son used to be extremely sociable and excel at school and in sport, captaining the county rugby and cricket teams. But this all changed when his love of gaming took hold.
“I knew it was addictive [at the beginning] when he was online instead of doing his homework. He started to be an addict and avoided the real world,” the mum, who co-founded Untapped AI, which supports people online in work and at home, recalled.
“He has great mates [in other gamers online] and he is having fun running virtual worlds and non-existent kingdoms but it’s not real. It’s become so real that there’s nothing outside it anymore.”
“Every moment he’s awake, he wants to be on a game,” she continued. “There is no outside world. It has become all-consuming.”
While the case is believed to be the first of its kind in the UK, news has also emerged of a girl of nine being admitted to rehab after becoming so addicted to the latest must-play video game she wet herself to keep playing.
Her horrified parents have revealed how their daughter is now in intensive therapy after getting hooked on Fortnite.
Experts are now warning she could be one of many children at risk of developing mental health problems as a result of over-playing the fight-to-the-death game.
Over 40 million have downloaded the game since it was launched last July. The game’s most popular format is the Battle Royale in which 100 players fight each other until one is left standing.
Towards the end of last year the World Health Organisation (WHO) classified Internet gaming as a mental health disorder.
It is believed that thousands of people in the UK suffer from similar issues, as new studies show that four per cent of adolescents are clinically at risk of addiction.