Video game addiction is now being recognised as a mental health condition

Henrietta Strickland
June 19, 2018

Many parents will have thought it for a long time, but they now have a new argument to limit their children's "screen time", addiction to video games has been recognised by World Health Organisation (WHO) as a mental health disorder.

However, Vladimir Poznyak of the WHO's Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse told New Scientist previous year, when the agency first revealed its decision to include gaming disorder in its diagnostic manual, that the move was supported by sufficient evidence. The previously signaled move takes the policy one step closer to official recognition in the wake of a successful Electronic Entertainment Expo (E3) game trade show in Los Angeles last week. The increased risk may be from the frequency of gaming, from the amount of time spent on these activities, from the neglect of other activities and priorities, from risky behaviours associated with gaming or its context, from the adverse consequences of gaming, or from the combination of these.

"The person does so much gaming that other interests and activities are ignored, including sleeping and eating", Saxena said by phone.

Some health care professionals believe that depression or anxiety could be linked to video game addiction, but the jury is out on which comes first.

He concluded: "We have not crossed all our "ts" and dotted all our "is" with regard to the assessment, diagnosis, and treatment of gaming addictions".

Visitors play video games on June 12, 2018, at a Nintendo of America Inc. booth at E3, a large-scale computer and video game event held in Los Angeles. Other important markets include the United States, Britain, France, Germany and Brazil.

So-called "shooter games" such as "Fortnite" - described on the support website Game Quitters as the "hottest game in the world" - are either played online or on offline consoles.

Studies suggest that gaming disorder affects only a small proportion of people who engage in digital- or video-gaming activities.

The proposed disorder falls under the category of substance abuse or addictive behaviors, which reads: "Disorders due to substance use and addictive behaviours are mental and behavioural disorders that develop as a result of the use of predominantly psychoactive substances, including medications, or specific repetitive rewarding and reinforcing behaviours".

Despite some pushback from various places, including the Entertainment Software Association, the WHO Has nonetheless made a decision to go ahead and keep the disorder in its finalized classifications.

The International Classification of Diseases (ICD), which has been updated over the past 10 years, now covers 55,000 injuries, diseases and causes of death.

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