COLUMBUS, Ohio — Parents in central Ohio are learning what the new mental health classification of gaming disorders could mean.
The World Health Organization announced that compulsively playing video games now qualifies as a new mental health condition. It is a move that some critics warn may risk stigmatizing young players.
Local colleges point to thousands of studies where universities nationwide completed a part of the research leading up to the designation.
“As with any addiction, it doesn’t just harm the individual,” said Iowa State Professor Douglas Gentile.
Gentile has completed numerous studies on children and gaming. He called the action of the World Health Organization a victory for science. Now, a person can be diagnosed as addicted to gaming. Gentile said the move aligns with his ongoing studies that began in the 1990’s.
“Even back then, parents were saying their kids were addicted to games and I thought that can’t be right. I started studying back then. I set out to disprove it, but the more I tried to disprove it, the more I couldn’t.”
Gentile said it could mean better help and therapy for children who have crossed the line. He explained the new classification could open the door for insurance companies to cover gaming addiction treatment.
“Once we recognize some kids might have a real problem with the way they’re gaming, then we might recognize the symptoms earlier and get them help sooner before it becomes such a big problem,” Gentile said.
Warning signs he said parents can watch for include a shift in your child’s performance at school, depression, social phobias or ADHD. He said he found them to often be comorbid.