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Troubling: A charity has warned that addiction to playing computer games is set to become a major issue, particularly for 10 to 16-year-olds
Astonishing 40 per cent of people under 16 think they know of at least one person addicted to gaming

Addiction to playing computer games is set to become a major issue, a charity has warned.

New research carried out by Norfolk-based Norcas - which helps people overcome addiction to drugs, alcohol and gambling - revealed that huge numbers of 10 to 16-year-olds would be lost without computer games.

The charity commissioned independent research into gaming and addictive behaviours which revealed that more than a third of people surveyed above the age of 16 think they know of at least one person addicted to gaming.

For those under the age of 16 that number rose to almost 40 per cent.

The findings have led the charity to believe that gaming will be the next major area where it will have to offer support.

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Speaking to the Norwich Evening News, Maggie Williams, chief executive of Norcas, said: 'It is a generational issue, with almost 100 per cent of young people engaging in gaming.

'If played responsibly, gaming is a good pastime, but we need people to be aware of the problems that will arise if the gaming takes hold.

'Some 86 per cent of the people we spoke to agreed that gaming can be addictive and revealed lack of exercise and poorer relationships with friends, partners and parents as some of the problems experienced as a result of gaming.'

The survey found that about a third of adults and more than 40 per cent of youngsters said they played video games most days.

The key playing time was found to be between 6pm and 9pm - the hours when many families can enjoy time together.

With many parents buying computer games for their children in the lead up to Christmas, Norcas has also urged parents to recognise the age-restriction guidelines set by the Pan-European Games Information (PEGI).

It is keen to stress that gaming certificates are based on content suitability - as in films - and not capability.

It also recommends that players take regular breaks from extended lengths of game play.