Video-Game Playing May Lead to Addiction

Playing compulsively now qualifies as a mental health issue.

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How Technology May Affect Children (3:31)

According to the World Health Organization, compulsive video-game playing can now be classified as a mental health condition. The health agency says that classifying gaming disorder separately from other types of addictions will allow everyone involved (families, friends, health care workers, etc) to be more equipped to identify the symptoms and help loved ones. 

While many parents already assume that too much technology time can have serious health ramifications, Dr. Joan Harvey worries that this classification will cause undue concerns, adding that "this doesn't mean every child who spends hours in their room playing games is an addict otherwise medics will be flooded with requests for help." 

The American Psychiatric Association hasn't yet described video gaming as an official mental health problem, explaining that this condition requires "more clinical research and experience before it might be considered for inclusion." Though studies have shown that when people play video games or Internet games, certain neural pathways are activated in the same way that "a drug addict's brain is affected by a particular substance." The gaming switches on a neurological response that is tied to the reward center of the brain and may in extreme cases lead to addiction. 

While more research is required to determine exactly how gaming and addictions go hand-in-hand, the director of the World Health Organization's Department for Mental Health and Substance Abuse, says that when "video games are interfering with the expected functions of the person", then you may want to watch over them closely and seek help. 

Related:

How Technology May Affect Children

How the Brain Responds to Technology 

How to Take a Healthy Break From Technology