WHO classifies video game addiction as a mental health disorder


"After consulting with experts across the world, and reviewing evidence in an exhaustive manner, we decided that this condition should be added", Shekhar Saxena, director of WHO's department of mental health and substance abuse, told AFP.

Gaming disorder is one of many mental health conditions that the WHO that have been changed - they have been simplified and diagnostic descriptions have been added.

World Health Organization said it would be comparable to addictive or compulsive disorders where there is a lack of control over gaming, gaming gets precedence in life and gaming is continued or escalated despite negative consequences.

According to studies, gaming disorder affects only a small proportion of people who engage in digital-gaming or video-gaming activities.

The World Health Organization defined gaming disorder as a disease in which sufferers experience a loss of control over their lives and establish gaming as their highest priority, regardless of the presence of unfavorable effects associated with their behavior. So far, the American Psychiatric Association has declined to classify gaming addiction as a disorder but has said it merits further research.

Many countries, including China, South Korea and Japan, are targeting gaming disorders through laws and regulations restricting play times and monitoring game usage.

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"Everyone who indulges from gaming from time-to-time doesn't have this disorder; it's only a minority of people who game who will satisfy the strict criteria for gaming disorder in ICD-11".

Others welcomed WHO's new classification, saying it was critical to identify people hooked on video games quickly because they are usually teenagers or young adults who don't seek help themselves.

"Video game addiction essentially is where the brain gets hijacked by the video game and their reward system and it turns it into a loop system so they're constantly craving that reward", Fearzig said. The draft draws similarities to gambling addictions. They include psychosocial interventions, social support, understanding of the conditions and family support.

Part of the problem is how to distinguish between simply spending a lot of time playing games and actual addictive behaviour. In its latest revision to a disease classification manual called the International Classification of Diseases, or I.C.D., the United Nations health agency explains the change and why it has (finally) removed the transgender mental disorder classification.

If your child starts fussing when they're not allowed to be gaming all day, it's a clear sign that you need to cut back, Posner says.

WHO's latest catalogue also has a new chapter on traditional medicine, which previously went unmentioned, despite being used by millions of people around the world.