Video game addiction gets more scrutiny

RENO, Nev. (KOLO) When you hear the word addiction, these days opioid addiction comes to mind, because of its prevalence and fatality.

But the World Health Organization has its attention turned to video gaming, the kind that is normally played in your living room.

"Certain people who have certain predispositions to addictive disorders; and if you are one of those people, it can become a real problem. For 90% of the population, probably not," says Diane Springborn, clinical director at Bristlecone, a center for addiction and recovery.

W.H.O. is considering placing "gaming disorder" in its standard reference tool on illness. That is a reference guide medical professionals use to help diagnose disease.

Springborn says video gaming is neither good nor bad. But there are warning signs as with any addiction you need to be aware of.

"When every other area of your life is affected. When it takes precedence over your job, your school, your social life, and your family. Then is it a real problem," says Springborn.

For some the activity starts to trigger the brain's reward system. Players start to constantly seek that release of the hormone Dopamine. The cycle leads to making choices that are objectively bad for them.

This vicious cycle can start early in life, even in children who play video games, which is why Springborn says parents need to be aware.

"Parents just be careful and know what your kids are doing. Don't use the gaming as a babysitter," she says.

This W.H.O recommendation is only in draft form at this time. The decision to list "gaming disorder" in the medical reference material should be made sometime in early 2018.