Regular video game play has rapidly escalated in recent years and has dramatically changed the landscape of childhood and adolescence. The average American youth spends over 5 1/2 hours per day interacting with screen media for entertainment and engages in extensive regular video game play. A significant body of scientific research reveals the effects of chronic video game play on parameters of psychological well being, including effects on academic achievement, sleep, and behavior. A behavioral addiction to video games, also called Internet Gaming Disorder, is common and associated with significant distress and impairment, but typically under-recognized in medical and mental health treatment settings. Research and clinical experience reveals ways parents can protect youth health risks associated with video games habits, as well as potential treatments for pathological use.
Paul Weigle, M.D. is a child & adolescent psychiatrist and associate medical director at Natchaug Hospital, of Hartford Healthcare in Connecticut, where he serves as medical staff president. Dr. Weigle is a co-chair of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry’s Media Committee and has served on the committee since 2002. He has authored numerous articles on the effects of video game & internet habits on the mental health of youth, and regularly speaks on the topic to physicians, parents and mental health professionals. He treats children and adolescents with mental health problems at the Joshua Center programs. Dr. Weigle received his medical doctorate from New Jersey Medical School, and completed a medical internship, general psychiatric residency, and child & adolescent psychiatry fellowship at Harvard Medical School affiliates.