World Health Organization to classify video game addiction as mental illness

29 December, 2017, 01:03 | Author: Lorraine Moran
  • Gaming Disorder Now Real? Why You Shouldn't Get Your Health News from Forbes

Not everyone who likes to play video games has gaming disorder - plenty of people play video games without getting a diagnosis.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has made another step forward in formalizing the concept of video game addiction.

Sudden deaths and physical symptoms linked to online gaming have been on the rise in recent years.

"The behavior pattern is of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning". For others, however, the lure of video games can become an issue, hindering other aspects of their life and leading to addictive behaviors similar to those with an addiction to gambling.

"We just don't think it's a good idea to let them spend hours playing video games", said Knoxville mother Meredith Prince.

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Per the World Health Organization, the symptoms of gaming disorder usually have to be present over the course of 12 months in order to justify a diagnosis, although some patients may present their symptoms in a more rapid and severe manner.

The disorder is characterised by "impaired control" with increasing priority given to gaming and "escalation", despite "negative consequences".

Sharma and his colleagues have seen dozens of young people - the youngest a 11-year-old and the oldest a 20-year-old - over the past three years at the Nimhans Service for Healthy Use of Technology (SHUT) clinic, the first exclusively for patients with technology-related addictive behaviour.

Gaming has grown into a $100 billion global industry, with almost half of the revenue coming from mobile games. Dr. Chris Ferguson told Kotaku that while "myths" about the similarities between gaming and substance abuse persist, they are true "only insofar as any pleasurable activity activates these regions [of the brain]".

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