World Health Organization Says Video Game Addiction Is a Mental Health Disorder

May 27, 2019
World Health Organization Says Video Game Addiction Is a Mental Health Disorder

“A pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behavior” that outweighs other interests is how the World Health Organization describes video game addiction.

If you were to browse the International Classification of Diseases by WHO, you will notice “Gaming disorder” listed under addictive behaviors.

1. impaired control over gaming (e.g., onset, frequency, intensity, duration, termination, context);

2. increasing priority given to gaming to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other life interests and daily activities; and

3 .continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences. The behaviour pattern is of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning.

It is not a common problem, which experts agree on, claiming that only up to 3% of gamers can be classified as addicted, but for that 3 % it is a very real problem with serious consequences. This is obviously something that will make finding help for them a lot easier.

Unfortunately, as it is common, this is a double-edged sword. It might help those with an actual problem, but it can also cause some panic. Critics commented that most parents are already dubious about video games, and this has the potential to push them even further.

Dr. Joan Harvey, reminded that only a small number of people could be affected by this, "People need to understand this doesn't mean every child who spends hours in their room playing games is an addict, otherwise medics are going to be flooded with requests for help."

The American Psychiatric Association does not consider Gaming disorder to be a new mental health disorder. They previously stated that it is a complicated topic and that it is "a condition warranting more clinical research and experience before it might be considered for inclusion".

It should also be noted that most of the literature on the topic is based on the gaming habits of young men in Asia.

All of this is a reminder that, for some, games are an escape and way to distance themselves from what is happening in their life. So if you’re concerned about someone spending too much time playing games, try talking to them and finding out what’s happening in their life, they might be struggling.

The 11th revisions of the ICD will be presented for adoption in January 2022, to member states, at the currently in session World Health Assembly.