Excessive gaming now considered a disorder

BROWN COUNTY, Wis. (WBAY) -- What is sometimes considered a fun hobby can actually be addictive.

Last month, the World Health Organization declared excessive gaming a disorder in the United States.

That definition is when users put things like video games, or screen time, above everything else in their lives: their jobs, relationships, even their personal hygiene.

“For whatever reason, the gaming has drawn attention. But it's like any other abuse, addiction type disorder,” says Lisa Schubring, a marriage and family therapist with Prevea Behavioral Health. “You can be addicted to anything: shopping, drugs, alcohol, food.”

Experts say they see “gaming disorder,” or an electronic obsession, frequently with kids. In that case, it’s best for parents to limit their screen time to two hours per day.

“It looks a little bit different if children versus adults,” Schubring reminds us.

Gregg Johnson, owner of Game Trade in De Pere, has been using video games as a fun pastime for decades.

He says 98 percent of his customers use them in the same way, saying sometimes games even become an escape.

“I think when your life or work is tough, or school is tough, or something is going on, you're looking to this stuff to kind of get away,” Johnson says. “And when times are tough and you're looking to get away a lot, it can seem addictive.”

The World Health Organization says excessive gaming becomes a disorder when games “take precedence over other interests and daily activities.”

In that case, Johnson says the problem runs much deeper than your time spent with a PlayStation 4.

“People might be quick to call it gaming addiction and not actually look at what caused them to act that way about video games,” Johnson says.

“It’s like any other kind of compulsive behavior, figuring out why,” says Schubring. “What's the compulsion about, why are you so driven to do this all the time?”

The best way to treat gaming disorder is to limit the number of hours you play daily.

If you can’t do that, you should seek out a professional counselor to work through the root of the problem.

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