YUMA, Ariz. - The World Health Organization (WHO) recognized video game addiction as a mental disorder at the beginning of this year.
Even though video games can be a fun past time for many people, experts say you should only play for two hours a day.
Anthony Aguirre and Nathaniel Rodriguez play video games weekly on game day at the Somerton Library.
"At the age of 11 and 15 I played almost 24/7 playing video games, Aguirre said. "I always bring my game boy with me and I would do my homework at lunch or in class and then play video games all day at home," he shared.
Aguirre started playing video games when he was three years old. Now, he has minimized his game playing to three to six hours a day.
"We do video games just to pass the time with family or friends," Rodriguez said.
But when does simply playing to pass time become an addiction? Dr. Marvyn Grayson, the family medicine resident physician at the Yuma Regional Medical Family Medicine Center shared more about this newly named disorder.
“As your being exposed to video games, which has a lot of lights, a lot of stimulus, most of the video games now-a-days are violent so it pretty much revs up your heart rate autonomic nervous system, which is your flight or fight system," he said.
“Typically with this certain disorder, with video game disorder it has to be present for at least a year and it has to disrupt daily life," he added.
Poor hygiene like not bathing regularly or not brushing teeth leading to more cavities, poor grades in school and not having many friends are some signs.
"Once you’re stimulating this for hours on end at such a young age it’s not uncommon that we see these same patients later on down the road that have certain types of mood disorders such as anxiety, panic attacks, depression from that. That’s why it’s great that the WHO came out with this diagnosis because it’s something we could potentially nip in the bud," Dr. Grayson said.
Aguirre said his parents have told him numerous times to stop playing video games.
"I play behind their back or at night I'll stay up till almost 3 a.m. playing video games," Aguirre said.
Dr. Grayson recommends no more than two hours a day in front of a video game screen, TV or cell phone.
“There is hope because, first in any problem you have to accept that there is a problem so that’s where therapy comes into play," Dr. Grayson added.
Aguirre and his friends don't see themselves giving up gaming any time soon. They said the games have had a positive impact on their lives, helping them overcome being bullied and by boosting their confidence.
Dr. Grayson mentioned that if you play games or are on your phone right before you go to bed, it tricks your brain into thinking it's the morning and that the sun is rising due to the blue light coming off of the screen. He recommends turning your phone to night mode if that is available.