Hobby or addiction? Experts weigh in on recently diagnosed gaming disorder

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind— Is it a hobby or an addiction?

Chances are if you’re a parent, your child may play video games for time to time.

For some, that may be a few hours a week. These days, many adults are also gaming as a way to decompress or escape reality.

In June, the World Health Organization released the beta draft of its 11th International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) which includes “gaming disorder” in its list of mental health conditions.

But one licensed mental health councilor say not all gaming is necessarily bad.

“It can be actually really healthy and mental health professionals use video games to help treat people with certain kinds of mental illnesses,” explained Kimble Richardson, a Licensed Mental Health Councilor at Community Health Network.

Richardson says there things parents should keep an eye out for.

Symptoms of gaming disorder are:

  • Feeling of a loss of control over gaming
  • Prioritize gaming over other activities
  • Increased use of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences

For children, this could mean they are choosing gaming over other activities or withdrawing from family and friends.

At Kait Baumgartner home, her 7-year-old son is limited on how much he can play and the content of the games.

“He knows games that are for 9-years-old and younger are appropriate for him. If it’s over 9, we try not to do that,” the Indianapolis Mom Blog owner said.

But even with those boundaries, Baumgartner says the more he plays, the more of an impact she sees.

“He gets going in it, and he will get really angry and kind of start shouting or yelling if he’s losing or it didn’t happen how he wanted it to end.”

That’s  why she makes sure knows when it time to unplug. If you are concerned you or your child has a gaming addiction, be sure to contact your doctor or child’s pediatrician.

To read more on the full definition of “gaming disorder” by the WHO, click here.

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