BOSTON (CBS) – It’s a question you may have asked yourself when you were younger, or may be asking about your own kids now – how much video game time is too much?
Finally, after years of speculation and concern, we may start to get some scientific answers now that the World Health Organization has decided to classify gaming disorder as an addiction, comparable to compulsive gambling or substance abuse.
This doesn’t mean that just because someone, no matter what their age, is spending a lot of time online, their loved ones should panic and rush them to the doctor. According to the WHO, a gamer must be showing serious side effects like disrupted sleep and diet and a sharp drop in physical activity for at least a year before they can be diagnosed with a disorder. But many doctors and insurance companies do rely on the WHO designations.
And perhaps the most positive immediate fallout from this will come from folks who needed a wake up call about the seriousness of not just gaming, but other forms of online addiction. We as a culture are just recently waking up to the unhealthy obsession too many have with smartphones and social media, and the social, psychological and physical damage they can cause.
Maybe more consumers will push back against video game makers who design their products to be addictive with the same sort of uproar we’ve seen about tobacco and opioids. And maybe more of us will stop relying on technology to baby-sit our kids.
Video games and the internet were supposed to be tools for us to use and enjoy. It’s time we started taking control of them, instead of letting them control us.