Video game addiction a psychiatric disorder?

Filed under: Health & Safety: Babies, Media, Gadgets, That's Entertainment

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) is responsible for publishing the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, a handbook that is widely used by mental health professionals around the world to diagnose mental illness. The APA is currently working on an update to the book and The American Medical Association (AMA) would like to have a new category added to the list of mental disorders: video game addiction.

According to the AMA, as many as 90 percent of American kids play video games and as many as 15 percent of those gamers might be addicted to them. That's more than 5 million kids. In a report submitted to the APA, the AMA's Council of Science and Public Health says that based on review of scientific literature, "dependence-like behaviors are more likely in children who start playing video games at younger ages" and that overuse often occurs in role-playing games that involve multiple players.

Of course, video game makers disagree that their products are addictive, and so many health professionals. But tell that to Joyce Protopapas, who claims her 17 year old son is a video game addict. She blames video games for his transformation from an outgoing, high-achieving teen into a reclusive, grade-flunking manipulator who spent hours playing World of Warcraft. Protopapas says she tried to get a handle on her son's game playing by taking away the game. "He would threaten us physically. He would curse and call us every name imaginable," she said. "It was as if he was possessed."

Dr. Michael Brody, of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, agrees that excessive video game playing is a problem, but thinks it could be a symptom of other issues, such as depression or social anxieties. "You could make lots of behavioral things into addictions. Why stop at video gaming?" Brody asked. Why not Blackberries, cell phones, or other irritating habits, he said.

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.