Video Game Addiction Is Now a Mental Health Disorder

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — From Super Mario to Fortnite and every game in between the video game world has been evolving rapidly over the past couple decades.

But with this rise comes the chance of being diagnosed with a mental health disorder.

KDLT talked with professionals about the warning signs to look for and alternatives for too much gaming.

Ben Odland is 12 years old and is an avid gamer.

“I think I’m addicted, but I’m not as bad as a lot of people like my friends that I’m playing with. I get off after a few games, and then get back on later for a few games, and go on and off. They sit down and play for 5 hours straight,” says Ben Odland.

Kristin Odland, Ben’s mom, says he’s been gaming since he was 7 years old. But in their household there’s a 2 hour limit, and they even use a device to monitor the time.

“When he has reached his max limit he’ll get a warning on the PS4, or on his phone just saying that he’s out and it actually blocks him out,” says Kristin Odland.

The mom of three says it can be a struggle keeping up with the evolving times of gaming.

“I definitely wish that he wanted to do other things then gaming, but we also understand that it’s just another day and age, and that’s what his friends are doing, and that’s how he connects,” says Kristin Odland.

In 1995 there were reportedly 100 million gamers worldwide.  Just last year there were 2.6 billion users.

It’s an industry that’s become a booming business.

“Basically it’s a social gaming experience. We have close to 30 Xbox1 stations. We have some Play Station 4 stations as well as about 30 gaming PC’s,” says Max Kaftanati of Galaxy Gaming.

Kaftanati is the general manager of Galaxy Gaming. He says people can be addicted to gaming, but store hours can monitor that.

“Because we have limited hours, and they can’t stay and play all the time,” says Kaftanati.

But how much is too much? Gaming disorder is now part of the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Diseases.

“This isn’t meant to worry anybody,” says Karla Harmon of Sanford.

Harmon wants parents to simply be aware of the disorder.

“It’s just a matter of teaching balance, and then instead of talking about why they shouldn’t be gaming. It’s about replacing and showing them all the things they could be doing,” says Harmon.

Harmon says gaming disorder affects only a small portion of people. She adds that there is no research suggesting the right amount of time spent gaming.

“There can be arguments all ways, but it’s always like just know your own kids, know your own family. Know your own expectations,” says Harmon.

That’s why the Odland’s are not letting the controller control them.

For gaming disorder to be diagnosed behavioral changes with family, social interaction or other important areas of functioning have to be evident for at least 12 months according to the World Health Organization.

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