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World Health Organization now lists "gaming disorder" as a mental health condition

World Health Organization now lists "gaming disorder" as a mental health condition

SCRANTON (WOLF) -- "It's a concern and we ought to pay attention to it."

In a move by the World Health Organization this week "gaming disorder" is now listed as a mental health condition.

They say people may show patterns of gaming behavior where it becomes much more important than other daily interests and activities.

"As a parent and as a professional, you worry about, are there negative consequences they're having, and they're continuing to use anyway," said University of Scranton Counseling and Human Services Professor Oliver J. Morgan, Ph.D.

He feels it's a good - and an expected - decision.

"We tend to think of addiction or addictive disorders as involving just chemicals, you know, drugs, alcohol, nicotine, or behaviors like gambling. We now know there are a lot of other things that can become disordered," said Morgan.

He notes some people may be more vulnerable to getting sucked into gaming.

"It can be used as a way of coping with anxiety, with depression, with a history of childhood trauma."

John Greene from The Video Game Store in Scranton sees something similar.

"It's a replacement for real life, I guess. When life is bad, say, if you don't have a good job or with your life in general, it's a way to escape I guess," he said.

He says his niece became so engrossed in gaming she dropped out of college.

"She wouldn't actually do her school work, she'd be playing on game systems all night long, every day, all through the weekend," said Greene.

He also sees the financial impacts.

"People come in, they'll buy game systems and this and that, then, two weeks later they'll say, 'I gotta sell this back because I can't pay my rent'."

But while some spend too much time gaming, those in the video game world say most people do not have a disorder.

"The question is, can they live their lives and is it integrated into their lives in a way that's beneficial, healthy, are they still getting exercise, that kind of thing," said Morgan.

With the WHO now labeling gaming disorder, Professor Morgan says it gives them more license to study its ramifications.

He adds that while there is growing research and desire for treatment, there's still a lot of debate around the issue.

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