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WHO Recognizes Video Game Addiction As A Legitimate Disorder

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - Popular, controversial, and now - according to the World Health Organization - video games have just been recognized as a behavioral addiction.

According to Pew research, 97 percent of teen boys and 83 percent of girls play games on some kind of device. Now, videogaming is an internationally recognized addiction, according to the WHO.

Andrew Malekoff of North Shore Child and Family Guidance Center told CBS2's Jennifer McLogan the International Classification of Diseases now includes an entry on "gaming disorder" as a behavioral addiction.

"Similar to other addictions, like with drugs or alcohol, a lot of time is spent thinking about 'When is the next game,'" Malekoff said.

Studies show those vulnerable are unable to stop playing, even when it interferes with their lives.

Some experts suggest rather that going cold turkey on technology, focus on reduction. Keep devices out of the bedroom, make sure young people go to school, spend time with friends, and play outdoors, McLogan reported.

Not everyone is caught in a gaming web. The New York Institute of Technology is one college in our area that offers students a major in game design and development.

"There's a lot companies looking for engineers, computer science engineers, to code their websites to stay ahead of the esports curve," said Elieser Duran, head coach of e-sports at NYIT. "Here at NYIT, making sure all pieces are in place, so the moment they graduate they can get a job in the industry that is flourishing right now.'

Rep. Peter King says gaming is a legitimate issue to explore.

"I think its important to have hearings on it, to see if there is a role for legislation, to educate the public, get it out there, bring in the experts," King said.

He says putting down devices more often is a good start.

Doctors say until the U.S. psychiatric profession agrees with the World Health Organization that gaming addiction is an official diagnosis, it will be difficult to bill insurers for treatment.

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