Although Internet Gaming Disorder has not yet been officially recognized by the DSM-5, it is not considered a condition in need of further study. This means that most likely it will be listed as a disorder in the next edition of the DSM-5. However, the World Health Organization has just listed it as an official disorder. As such, Gaming Disorder will be listed in the next edition of the ICD, the ICD-11. These official recognitions of compulsive gaming as a disorder may lead to improved interventions as researchers and mental health professionals may receive more funding to develop better treatment options and provide counseling and other psychological services for those with the disorder. For example, insurance will begin to reimburse for compulsive gaming as it will be classified as a disorder.
Whether or not it is classified as a disorder, mental health professionals have long been aware of the problem of compulsive gaming. Indeed, this is a source of much frustration for parents around the world. Gaming addiction appears to be on the rise, especially across Asia (where it is more common than in Europe or North America) and in Thailand, as well. In Bangkok, there are many gaming cafes across the city. These cafes often cater to those with gaming addiction, with some reportedly having secret backrooms where teens can hideout from parents to indulge in their addiction—often skipping school to do so. South Korea became the first countries to make laws to reduce the amount of gaming amongst young Koreans, as it had become such a severe problem in Korea. Gaming addiction is most common in those ages 12 to 20 and often affects boys more often than girls.
Symptoms of gaming addiction are very similar to symptoms of drug addiction. They include a preoccupation with gaming, spending excessive time gaming while neglecting responsibilities, withdrawal symptoms when unable to game (such as feeling irritable and agitated), others complaining about the amount of gaming, difficulty abstaining from gaming, and feelings of guilt as a result of being unable to reduce the amount of gaming.
Those with gaming addiction may downplay their addiction or deny they have a problem, much like people with drug addiction.
Parents usually become involved after their child begins to have academic problems or no longer wants to participate in extracurricular activities as a result of compulsive gaming. By this time, the addiction may be well set in and the child will resist the parents attempt to reign in his or her gaming. However, parents play a key role in preventing gaming addiction. Parents should place strict limits on the amount of gaming their children engage in well before it turns into an addiction. Although parents often use gaming as a free babysitter, it is much more difficult to stop an addiction than to prevent one. Therefore, parents should avoid using video games as a babysitter.
Gaming addiction can be treated the same way as other addictions. This often includes counseling, psychological services, rehab, medications, and self-help groups. Those with gaming addiction may have other psychological problems, such as depression or ADHD, which would need to be addressed by mental health professional, as well.