Is it a real addiction?

While we think the term "addicted" is over-used, an irresistible need to play video games might qualify.

It's common to hear people who say they're "addicted" to chocolate, coffee, Twinkies or a favorite TV show. But, technically speaking, a strong fondness does not translate into an addiction.

A real addiction is something that triggers a powerful physical and/or mental need. It's not just a guilty pleasure, but an unhealthy, disabling dependence.

Can a penchant for video games be classified as an addiction? The leading council of the American Medical Association thinks so. The council, at its recent annual policy meeting, suggested that video game disorder should be included in the mental illness manual created and published by the American Psychiatric Association.

The experts claim that teens who hole up in their rooms to play video games hour after hour can become antisocial and belligerent, neglect basic nutrition and hygiene, and even become suicidal. Even adults can be affected, some of them losing their jobs because of video games.

Some doctors object. They say classifying an obsession with video games as a clinical addiction goes too far.

Still, the idea at least is worthy of more investigation. And parents of children who spend hours playing video games should take heed and consider urging their kids to take up other, healthier hob- bies.

Even if video gaming doesn't actually lead to addiction, such as eating a pound of chocolate a day, video overindulgence may be too much of a good thing.

Some doctors say that getting hooked on videos is almost as addictive as heroin.