AMES, Iowa – The World Health Organization’s classification of video game addiction as a mental health disorder is a significant step toward getting people the help they need, said Douglas Gentile, an Iowa State University professor of psychology and expert on video games and addiction.
In the above video, Gentile explains the science behind the WHO decision as well as what parents need to know about the disorder. In a 2011 study published in Pediatrics, Gentile and his colleagues found gaming addiction is comorbid with other mental disorders, such as depression, anxiety, social phobias and ADHD. The study tracked more than 3,000 children over the course of two years.
The findings help answer a question Gentile is often asked – is video game addiction a primary condition, or a symptom of other disorders? The study found gaming addiction occurs along with other mental health problems and is not just a symptom or simply used as a coping mechanism. While Gentile understands why people ask this question, he cautions against trying to pinpoint a primary issue when it comes to mental health.