This blog has discussed some of the downsides to too much screen time, but there is another type of screen time that can be even more problematic: gaming. Gaming can include game play on a gaming console, computer, hand-held device, or phone, and is a favorite pastime for some young people. When gaming begins to overtake other areas of a person’s life, however, the hobby may have evolved into a disorder.
Gaming Disorder is a condition that has been newly classified by the World Health Organization (WHO). Symptoms of Gaming Disorder include prioritizing gaming over other aspects of one’s life, continued and increased gaming use despite negative consequences (i.e., failing grades, missing life responsibilities), and being unable to stop oneself from playing video games. These symptoms and behaviors must have had significant negative consequences on one’s life for at least 12 months before being considered as Gaming Disorder.
Not everyone who enjoys gaming will develop Gaming Disorder. In fact, very few people who engage in gaming behaviors are considered to have this disorder. Of those who do display excessive gaming behaviors, research suggests that individuals with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), mood disorders, and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) may be more likely to become addicted to gaming. Further, young, single, white men with one of these conditions are most likely to develop the disorder.