World Health Organization Study Finds Gaming too Much Can Lead to Mental Health Issues

About three percent of people who play video games have a "gaming" disorder

UNITED STATES — For some nannies, getting the game consoles of kids’ hands is a lot more difficult than it may seem.

“It’s pretty tough. I usually have to talk to kids a couple times to get away from their video games. Sometimes they’re okay with coming outside and we have a good time once we finally get out there,” said Connor Waselk, who is the nanny of two boys over the summer.

Some kids and even adults have lost that willpower to step away from their gaming devices though, which eventually leads them to disconnect from the world.

“(They) stop engaging with families, stop engaging with friends, potentially don’t tend to their duties anymore like going to work and other social obligations that they have,” said Dr. Sarah Edwards, a psychologist at Family Institute in Fargo.

The World Health Organization is now naming the condition as a “gaming disorder”.

“There’s a lot of controversy as to whether or not gaming should be considered a disorder but I think having it as a disorder will now allow more research of what gaming disorders might look like,” Edwards said.

She says providing a clear definition will also help her and other health professionals treat patients with the condition much sooner.

“I’ve definitely seen some patients that are worried about that for themselves. More frequently though, I see parents that are worried about their kids,” Edwards said. “Often times they’re teenagers that seem to do nothing else other than engaging in these video games.”

Psychologists recommend kids only spend about two to three hours playing video games because when played in moderation, they can have a positive effect.

“It’s just a way to step into a different world, get immersed into a different world and so people just get a lot of happy feelings and good things from that,” Edwards said.

Some say in certain cases, gaming can even help train your brain.

“A lot of video games make you use your mind in different ways, in ways that you’re not going to going about your day to day life. I think that can be a good mental exercise for some people,” said Matthew Johnson, store manager at Rock 30 Games in Fargo.

But for the people who are starting to get a little too much screen time, some other factors can help balance out their gaming so it doesn’t get out of hand.

“Not every child that engages in a lot of video gaming is going to develop a disorder. A lot of it depends on parental engagement and social environment. Do they have other interests and other friends,” Edwards said.

About three percent of people who play video games have a gaming disorder.

But the American Psychiatric Association has not named gaming disorders as a mental health problem yet.

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