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Internet Gaming Disorder declared an official disease

Should parents be concerned?
Posted at 6:50 PM, Oct 22, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-23 19:42:15-04

BELLEVUE, Neb. — It's the rise of a new type of sport.

"This is the third year of esports here at the university," Bellevue University athletic director Ed Lehotak said.

At Bellevue University, esports is an official sport at the school. Players practice for hours at a time. Up to nine and ten hours a day. But the payoff can be rewarding.

"Yes we scholarship the esports team, just like all of the other sports," Lehotak said.

And just like the other sports at the university, the full-time students and players work out as a team and partake in recreational activities. They play in tournaments and win titles for the school. To excel in the sport, Lehotak says hand-eye coordination and focus is key.

But how much video gaming is too much, and at what point does it become a medical health condition? The World Health Organization officially added Internet Gaming Disorder, or IGD, to its International Classification of Diseases.

"And you can develop things such as changes in behavior, changes in your ability to do day to day things because of your desire to continue using video games," Children's Hospital & Medical Center pediatric psychiatrist Dr. Tony Pesavento said.

The disease is linked to mostly younger kids. But that desire to play could possibly lead to a type of addiction.

"Similar to what you would see with addiction to most commonly drugs and alcohol," Dr. Pesavento said.

So should parents be concerned, even if video gaming is on the rise?

"I think that that's going to be one of the more difficult things to sort out Is what is pure addiction versus what is an anxiety disorder," Dr. Pesavento said.

More research still needs to be conducted. But medical health professionals say even just talking about this is good.

"It also helps providers talk to parents about it and talk to the general public about how video games do have an impact on kids and adults," Dr. Pesavento added.

The key seems to be moderation.

"You wouldn't want to cross country run or run for four hours a day. That's not realistic on their body or on the other things they need to do, so it'd be the same thing in video game practice," Dr. Pesavento added.

Some skeptics doubt the World Health Organization's decision and believe that gaming addiction could be a sign of other underlying mental health issues, such as ADHD or depression.