How to keep video gaming under control

Posted at 6:23 AM, Jul 16, 2018
and last updated 2018-07-16 06:53:27-04

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich.-- Playing video games is common among kids, teens and some adults. So much so, the World Health Organization recently named Gaming Disorder as a mental health condition.

A behavior specialist we talked to reassures that not all video games are bad. But, there are some pretty clear signs as to when it can take over one's life.

If you have access to a TV, computer, or cell phone, you have access to video games.

"I think gaming is ingrained in our culture," said Mark Bombara, an addiction specialist at Holland Hospital's Behavioral Health Services.

He says, for most kids and young adults, playing video games is a normal part of development.

The American Journal of Play lists benefits that include attention, memory, and decision-making.

"If any kid or adult has a balanced lifestyle, any gaming they do is going to be part of a normal life," Bombara explained.

"Where it becomes a problem is when it invades on normal responsibilities and normal life."

The World Health Organization recently named Gaming Disorder as a mental health condition and has a number of characteristics that identifies it.

They include:

*Hiding how much one is playing video games

*Not being able to cut down on time spent playing

*Gaming that interferes with daily responsibilities like work or school

*Anxiety when one cannot play

*Withdrawing from others

"We definitely see a lot of kids here that come in with behavioral problems or psychiatric problems and find out they have a struggle with video games," Bombara explained. "Often, it's not what they come in for, but it's part of the problem."

Bombara suggests getting ahead of any possible issues.

"You have to have some kind of boundaries and limits to how much time you spend, not just on video-gaming, but technology. Being able to put it down, interact and do other things."

Bombara clarifies that gaming is not as great of a problem as everyone thinks. About one to three percent of gamers will have a significant problem. But, setting those guidelines early on may just be the help someone needs to keep their playing within reason.