Can kids really be addicted to video games?

Many researchers think it's possible to be addicted to video games. The American Psychiatric Association (APA) and the World Health Organization (WHO) have identified a condition called internet gaming disorder (IGD), which they say could be a kind of addiction, though more research is still needed. But IGD is rare and may be tied to other conditions such as depression and ADHD. People with IGD have brains that in some ways look like the brains of people who are addicted to, for example, drugs and gambling.

The signs of true addiction include: craving something, needing more of something to get the same "high," and withdrawal when a user can't have it. People who are addicted to something ignore signs that the substance or activity is damaging their lives. They may lose friends. They may stop doing schoolwork. They even stop taking pleasure in the substance or activity itself. Learn more about the difference between IGD and problematic media use.

The Child Mind Institute contributed to this article. Learn more at

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Parent written by Wendy P.

I wasn't aware of my son's addiction to video games until I received a letter from his school informing me that he was falling asleep in class frequently. My son's response was that he was just tired, so I had him go to bed earlier, and thought that would fix the problem. Then, one morning, I woke up around 5 am to go to the bathroom (I normally got up at 6:30) and noticed my son's bedroom light was on. He was tired at school because he had been waking up around 4-4:30 every morning to play video games for a few hours before getting ready for school each day. He had no alarm clock after that. I woke him up for school from that point on. This was when he was in high school. He is an adult now, and will flat out admit to anyone that he still has an addiction in spite of my efforts. On the up side - he's never been a partier. On the down side - he hasn't had many close friends, and often puts off his responsibilities.
Parent of a 12 year old written by Jack L.

Yes, my son is in major league gaming and has earned money from it. And yes kids can be addicted (sometimes)