The truth about video game addiction in children

With the latest must-play video game Fortnite sweeping the world and kids as young as five spending every spare minute glued to the screen, it’s a question on many parent’s lips.

It’s estimated 125 million kids around the world are now hooked on playing the shooter-style video game Fortnite, with up to 3.4 million playing it simultaneously at any one time.

This intense obsession has many parents worried their child could be addicted.

It may come as some relief that the World Health Organisation (WHO) has, for the first time, recognised ‘gaming disorder’ – the compulsive and obsessive playing of video games – as a diagnosable and treatable condition.

Does my child have a video game addiction?

Researcher and Founder of Tech Clever, Dr Joanne Orlando, says if gaming starts taking precedence over all other activities, your child may have a problem.

“A good rule of thumb is, if your son or daughter consistently turns down the activities they usually love to instead play Fortnite, and this happens for 12 months or more, then it could be a sign that they have a disorder,” she says.

“If your child is keeping their grades up, and maintaining friends and hobbies, then their gaming activities are likely not an addiction.”

Dr Orlando says less than one per cent of people will likely be diagnosed with the disorder.

“This is an extreme health condition, so on a scale of one to 10, it’s a 10. It’s an addiction,” she says.

video gaming addiction

A healthy approach to gaming

The good news, says the tech expert, is that as with any video game, the obsession with Fortnite will pass for most children.

“Focus on setting up a healthy approach to gaming to avoid obsessive behaviour with this or any other video game,” she advises.

“Encourage a blend of physical activity with indoor activity and spend time talking with your child, and sometimes even playing games with them online.

“And use a range of trustworthy resources to help you understand kids’ gaming and technology use and aim to choose games that focus on problem solving, team skills, efficient use of resources and collaboration.”

Dr Orlando’s tips for managing your child’s video gaming

  1. The obsession with Fortnite will eventually pass for most children.
  2. Focus on setting up healthy approaches to gaming to avoid obsessive behaviour.
  3. Keep tabs on negative, obsessive gaming behaviours that last for 12 months or more.

Catch up on the full episode of The House of Wellness TV show to see more from Zoe, Ed, and the team.