World Health Organization

Health Officials Classify Some Video Games as Addictive

Parents worried about their children spending too much time playing games on a smartphone are right to be concerned.

Scientists with the World Health Organization on Monday classified such video games as addictive and such an addiction is diagnosable as a "gaming disorder." Symptoms include missing school, losing sleep and giving up hobbies to play.

Kids play the video games at home, in arcades and even in the classroom, and most of the time, they're doing it with smartphones.

Dr. Thomas Plante, a professor of psychology at Santa Clara University, says there are recognizable symptoms of gaming addiction.

"Young people are being developed with these things in their hands," Plante said, adding that the short-term effects can result in long-term circumstances. "Kids who don't go to school, grades tank or they don't show up or drop out or something like that."

Some kids like Jamie Ortega play so often, they might have a problem.

"I have like four Xbox 360s, so I have a lot of consoles," he said. "Yeah, a lot of hours of playing."

But there are ways parents can prevent their kids from being sucked into the video game universe, Plante said. If parents are concerned about their kids spending too much time playing the games, he said, they should set boundaries.

Jessica Arellano's family does just that.

"They don't get on me because I get straight A's," she said.

Doctors also say the more time young people spend outside, active or reading, the less likely they are to fall prey to video game addiction.

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