My Son is Addicted to Video Games

Published by Internet Addiction Center on

If your son is addicted to video games or their phone, or uses them excessively, here is some information that can help you determine if you should get help for them. Overuse and Addiction to video games has increased over the last twenty years as games have become more immersive and you can play on so many devices.  You can even play Atari games inside a Tesla now (with the car parked, of course). The danger begins when a child’s behavior changes: grades decline, they stop engaging in normal social activities, etc.  The World Health Organization has recently has declared “Gaming Disorder” a disease by placing it in the International Classification of Diseases (ICD).  The WHO defines gaming disorder as an amount of play that impairs relationships, school or work responsibilities and lasts for at least one year.  Gaming disorder will be classified under the addictive disorders and the criteria is:

  1. Less control over gaming
  2. Increasing priority given to gaming
  3. Continuing increase of gaming behavior despite negative consequences.


The final notes indicate that the issues can be continuously or in separate episodes and/or recurring.  If the addiction has gone on for less than 12 months, a diagnosis of gaming disorder can be made if all criteria is met and the behavior is severe.  


The DSM-5 (the directory of all mental health disorders) has also placed “Internet Gaming Disorder” in the Conditions for Future Study section.  The DSM-5 criteria is what establishes a billable diagnosis for insurances to cover treatment of most disorders.  These criteria are:


  • Preoccupation with playing game
  • Symptoms of sadness, anxiety, irritability when games are not available (withdrawal)
  • Needing to play more and more (tolerance)
  • You can’t stop despite giving it effort
  • You stop doing things you once enjoyed to play more
  • You keep playing the game despite problems
  • Deceiving others about the amount of time you play
  • Playing to reduce negative mood states
  • The risk or or actual loss of a job or relationship due to gaming

If you child has issues with gaming, try this quiz:

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