• Can gaming become a real addiction?

    By: John Paul

    Updated:

    An addiction at your fingertips. Some medical professionals say gaming addiction is a real thing.

    The World Health Organization is now acknowledging gaming disorder as a standalone condition.

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    “What really got me into the addiction was Fortnite.”

    Channel 9 heard from a 10-year-old boy who said he was addicted to video games. He didn’t just like playing, he craved it.

    "The whole day, I'd just be on it,” he said.

    His dad Roger let us interview his son, with the condition that we protected his family's identity.

    "Before the game, he was playing outside, playing soccer. Very active kid,” Roger said.

    He said after Fortnite, his son became verbally aggressive and even lost weight.

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    "'Cause when I'm on the iPad, I'm not hungry. I'm not sleepy.”

    He couldn't handle not playing.

    "Like a drug,” Roger said.

    That was about a year ago. Now, he's off Fortnite. "I noticed it was an addiction, but my brain told me to keep on going."

    Doctor Syed Quadri, an adult, child and adolescence psychiatrist, sees this boy and other children dealing with gaming addiction.

    "Well you'll be surprised to know some people spend 12 to 16 hours a day,” Quadri said.

    The warning signs can include poor sleep, bad behavior, poor concentration, irritability and mood changes.

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    Quadri said kids with ADD and similar disorders have a harder time with games.

    He's glad the World Health Organization is recognizing gaming disorder as a standalone condition.

    "I think it's a first step,” Quadri said.

    The American Psychiatric Association questions whether gaming disorder is a standalone condition.

    "We don't have evidence that video games are uniquely addictive."

    Stetson University psychology professor Chris Ferguson studies how games impact people's behavior.

    He thinks it's a symptom of another problem and supports more research.

    Gaming addiction is rare. It affects 1 percent or less of the adult population. For kids, Quadri said it could be up to 8 percent.

    The experts agree parents with concerns should seek out mental health professionals who work with kids or adolescents, which is what Roger's family did.

    "This is a huge problem. It's in front of us, and we're not seeing it,” Roger said.

    His son said, "I know it's an addiction. Now that I'm not on Fortnite anymore, I don't think about it anymore."

    Experts say games with loot boxes can simulate gambling and lead to addiction.

    They say all parents need to read up on games and monitor and even play the game to see what children are experiencing.

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