Too much video gaming to be recognized as mental health disorder

Parents and kids filled The Retrocade on Wednesday afternoon. (Photo credit: WLOS)

A draft of the World Health Organization's updated International Classification of Diseases includes a "gaming disorder," which recognizes video game addiction.

Psychiatrist Stephen Buie, with the Pisgah Institute, says American health professionals use a guide from the American Psychiatry Association to diagnose patients, so, if the final World Health Organization document includes gaming disorder, that doesn't mean it will be used in America. Buie says he has treated college aged males for video game addiction, though.

Many see gaming as a positive outlet. The Retrocade in West Asheville was filled with kids and parents Wednesday afternoon. One middle school student probably doesn't need to worry about playing too much.

"This is a treat. It's a treat," she said.

She hardly gets to play.

Buie says gaming can turn to addiction when a person plays to the detriment of their life, such as skipping class to game.

"I think it can become a real thing, but I think it starts with guidance on not playing too many video games. But I definitely think it can be a real thing for children," the middle school student's mom said.

When addicted, Buie says brains become preoccupied by the rewards provided by video games. He says it's the same part of the brain we rely on to seek shelter, food and relationships.

"This is perfect, because he gets to run around in here and play video games and not just sit on the couch at home and not interact at all. He's here with his buddies," said Billy Doubroski, who brought his son and his son's friend to The Retrocade.

He doesn't want parents to seek a diagnosis for their kids.

"My first thought was that that's just another reason to give for why kids might misbehave, like it's the game's fault," said Doubroski.

He does worry about the effects of too much screen time, though.

"Any chance we get to be outside instead of in front of the screen, we take that first, and then the screen becomes secondary," said Doubroski.

Buie says video game addiction would fall under the same umbrella as other non-substance addictions like gambling.

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