Local expert concerned parents will overreact after gaming disorder named addictive behavior

SALT LAKE CITY - The World Health Organization now includes “gaming disorder” as addictive behavior, but local behavioral doctors said that is nothing new, and are concerned for how children who play video games will be perceived.

“My first instinct was, ‘Oh my gosh, I hope parents aren’t scared,’ because it sounds very scary and I think a lot of kids now are playing games, especially, during summer,” said University of Utah Dr. Ashely Brown.   “That’s how I grew up; I went over to my friend’s house and played video games all night.”

Dr. Brown is an assistant professor of entertainment arts and engineering. Her background is in behavioral sciences and statistics.

Dr. Brown never thought her childhood of playing video games with her grandmother and family members would turn into a career.

“I’ve played video games since I was two-years-old, as soon I could hold a controller. I had a single mom who worked a lot… Now, professionally, my interest as a social behavior scientist is how we spend leisure time particularly digital leisure time," Dr. Brown said.

She understands mental illness and addictive behavior but wants families to keep video gaming in context.

“I am a little bit concerned for parents who are thinking… ‘my kid has this illness I need to get my kid help,’ when in reality maybe that kid just likes to spend free time doing an activity and that can be any activity and this case the kid may just like games," Dr. Brown said.

Dr. Brown does not want families to become confused between playing games for fun or maybe even turning them into a passion or career, for mental illness.

“When you walk passed someone who is sitting there on a computer you’re like, ‘what are you doing?’ Whereas, if you’re trying to make it on American Idol and you’re spending 18 hours a day in the studio dancing or singing, practicing your craft in any other capacity, people go ‘oh that’s an artist’ - that’s the same kind of idea because this is skill based.  I think it’s important to think about context, health, and setting rules for children," she said.

For more information on the new diagnosis, click here.