• Children's Center

    Mayo Clinic Minute: 3 tips on what to do if your child is addicted to gaming

The line between hobby and addiction is more defined after the World Health Organization began identifying gaming addiction as a mental health disorder.

Dr. Paul Croarkin, a Mayo Clinic child psychiatrist, says it's normal for kids to want to play video games, but parents should pay attention to lines being crossed into addiction.

Watch: The Mayo Clinic Minute

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"Things to be worried about are accelerating ... usage – hours and hours and hours throughout the day, playing the games all night long, for example, or all weekend long – and ... abandoning things that use to be ... a source of great enjoyment: schoolwork, friendships, sports, time outside," Dr. Croarkin says.

He says gaming addiction often can be a sign of a broader mental health issue, such as anxiety or depression. But there are three important things he says parents who think their child is addicted to gaming should do:

  1. Communicate.
    Communication is key. "It's a time to get more involved in the teenager's life and try to open up more channels of communications, and ... really get a handle on what's going on in their life," Dr. Croarkin says.
  2. Establish rules about screen time and stick to them.
    If teenagers aren't meeting basic family expectations, Dr. Croarkin says internet time and devices should be treated as a privilege – not a right.
  3. Seek help.
    Don't be afraid to get them professional help.