KNOXVILLE - People who spend countless hours playing video games could soon be diagnosed with a mental health disorder.
The World Health Organization will add Gaming Disorder to its International Classification of Diseases next year.
That's concerning news for the thousands of people who got a game under the tree for Christmas.
According to the marketing group NPD, video game console spending in the U.S. is up 27 percent from last year, up to $1.9 billion.
"We just don't think it's a good idea to let them spend hours playing video games," said Knoxville mother Meredith Prince.
Prince and her two sons have an understanding.
"Just during the school year they can't play during the week, and then they can play on the weekends," Prince said.
Video games have their place, but Prince limits them because she wants her boys to be active.
"My kids love to bike, they love to play basketball, they love to do things outside," Prince said.
But could a child get addicted to a video game?
"I do see how you might get a little addiction to a video game," Prince said.
The World Health Organization plans to include Gaming Disorder in its latest publication of The International Classification of Diseases.
"In fact, I asked my son today, 'Do you think you're addicted to video games?' And he said hmm, maybe," Prince said.
Symptoms include not being able to control when and how you play video games, or choosing games over other interests in life, even when there's negative consequences.
Prince says she could see how kids could fall into that type of behavior.
"There's definitely kids that play a lot more than my kids do—and that's their parents' choice," Prince said.
She says parents need to be involved, especially when kids receive new games for Christmas.
"I definitely think you need to pay attention," Prince said. "One of the rules we've always had is you're not going to go out there and just play online with someone you don't know, or just unlimited access. So I do feel like you need time limits, you do need to know what's going on."
The rules are there to avoid addictive behavior.
"I don't want them to begin anything like that this early in life—to feel like they have to have something," Prince said.
The World Health Organization will release the 11th edition of the International Classification of Diseases next year.
Adding "gaming disorder" to the list means it will be recognized by doctors and insurance companies.
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