Sven rollenhagen

Specialist in video game addiction and issues concerning adolescent shut-ins

What is video game addiction/gaming disorder?

A person suffering from video game addiction/gaming disorder is someone who has lost control over their gaming. The enjoyment of playing games has become secondary to the need to, despite the fact that the person has experienced negative consequences due to their gaming. Gaming disorder (GD) has since 2019 been officially recognized as a clinical diagnosis by the WHO.

Warning signs of video game addiction

Positive effects related to gaming

+ Increased social interaction
+ Joy and excitement experienced by the gamer
+ Improved language skills, primarily English
+ Improved multitasking skills and stress management
+ Improved strategic thinking
+ Increased contact with people from different cultures
+ Improved reaction time

Risk zone – both positive and negative effects

The effects are overwhelmingly negative – an addiction has developed

- Abstinence: the gamer becomes restless, irritated, and moody when they aren’t able to play
- Absence from school, failed tests, declining grades, being let go from work
- Serious conflicts with family and friends: fights about mealtimes, chores, etc.
- Preoccupation with gaming: the gamer is thinking about games even when not playing
- Lies and denial: the gamer lies about, among other things, the amount of time spent gaming, in order to appease their family and loved ones
- Disrupted sleep cycle, often up at night and asleep during the day
- Loss of interest for old friends and hobbies
- Health problems related to lack of physical activity
- Criminal activity such as stealing a parent’s credit card to pay for things in-game
- Loss of control: the gamer will play more than they had planned to
- Relapse into harmful patterns after having tried to reduce their gaming


Q: Is it true that you can become addicted to gaming?
A: Yes, current research in the field points to that being the case.

Q: Should I, as a parent, turn off the computer, lock up the modem, or in other ways try to impede my child’s gaming?
A: When it comes to very young children who are completely consumed by their games, this might be an effective strategy. However, with teenagers and adults, this approach often results in escalating the conflict rather than resolving it, leading to an increase in gaming. It is generally better to start a dialogue about how their gaming could be balanced with other things in life.

Q: When should I seek professional help?
A: As a gamer: when you feel like you are experiencing negative effects and you are starting to lose control of how much of your time you spend gaming. As a loved one: see the previous answer and remember to trust your gut when it comes to your own child!

Q: Are there some games that are higher in risk of becoming addicted to?
A: Yes, depending on how cleverly the game is designed and how much time it requires from the gamer. Many online games foment peer pressure, which can be hard to resist.

Q: Should I follow PEGI’s age limits?
A: Yes, PEGI is a system that scans games for – among other things – violence, sex, and drugs. GTA, for example, has an age limit of 18, meaning that it’s a game intended for adults.

Q: Is it a good idea for me as a parent to start gaming?
A: Most kids appreciate their parents showing an interest in their hobbies, or perhaps even sharing them. If you feel up to it, it could be a good idea to spend some time with your child playing a game, this might also make it easier to set boundaries. If you yourself are not interested in participating, you can always sit in from time to time and just watch. This will give you an insight into what type of games your child is playing, and if they’re appropriate for their age.

Q: Is it wise to set boundaries?
A: The younger your child is, the more boundaries you should set – especially when it comes to mealtimes and bedtimes. With an older child, it’s easier to have a discussion and try and come up with something reasonable together.

Q: Why should I turn to you for help?
A: We only focus on these specific issues, making us specialists in the area.

Q: You also offer help online, does that really work?
A: Yes, in many cases even better than the traditional way, the gamers will be on their computers, which is where they’re the most comfortable.


Here you can take part of testimonials from some of our clients (personal details have been edited out).

“We received some great help for our son who had gotten addicted to gaming. He was an adolescent shut-in and used to never leave the house. Thanks to Sven and his team, he has now graduated from high school and is planning on studying game design at the university.

Mother of a client

“Sven’s lectures taught us so much about young people’s lives on the internet. Now we find it easier to deal with screen time arguments and we have gained a new understanding of our children’s interest in gaming.”

Parent at a lecture

Adolescent shut-ins

We offer tailor-made programs for reclusive young people – or adolescent shut-ins –  who completely have stopped attending school. The causes for this behavior are various; some have struggled with conditions such as autism, while others might have special needs. This, in turn, has led them to experience school as tedious, and the world of online gaming as something much more interesting. We have also worked with people who have become shut-ins for unknown reasons.

What I offer

Four chairs in a room.


I offer testing, assessment, and treatment programs for all age groups. Counseling sessions take place in my clinic in Stockholm, in the home of the client or via phone or Internet. I offer my services to families, businesses, schools, and other government or educational institutions. 

A man lecturing about Video game addiction


I offer lectures to schools and businesses as well as other organizations and institutions. The main theme of my lectures is video games, smartphones and social media, looked at from an addiction perspective. I lecture all over Sweden as well as abroad, in both Swedish and English. Please contact us for more details, so that we can arrange a lecture in accordance with your needs.


A book cover with the text Datorspelsberoende.


Gaming has become a lifestyle with its own culture and dynamics. Sociologist Sven Rollenhagen sees gaming addiction as one of the great challenges of our time. In his book Gaming Addiction, he writes about this phenomenon and how to deal with it.

buy this book
A book cover with the text Mobikett - handbok för mobilzombies.


Checking Facebook at the dinner table? Texting while driving? Tweeting from the bathroom? Phone Etiquette is your guide to dos and don’ts when it comes to your smartphone. It mixes everyday observations together with interviews with psychologists and doctors in order to find out what’s okay and what isn’t. This book advocates balance for oneself and consideration of others.

buy this book
A book cover with the text Scroll Zombies.

Scroll zombies

Almost everyone does it. Presidents, regular people, most people you know, and probably even yourself too. Children and adults on their way to school and work, waiting for a bus, in the bathroom or while eating. We are staring at a screen, scrolling through the feed like zombies.

buy this book