Medicine

World Health Organization moves closer to recognizing 'gaming disorder'

World Health Organization moves closer to recognizing 'gaming disorder'

While some may debate whether gaming does pose a threat to mental health, the amount of time many people spend playing video games is astounding.

If you know of someone with gaming disorder, experts advise contacting a licensed mental health professional.

The organisation, in the beta draft of its 11th global classification of diseases, includes gaming disorder in its list of mental health conditions.

According to the World Health Organization draft, the classification applies if the symptoms listed manifest over a period of at least 12 months in order for a proper diagnosis assignment.

It is important to stress that since the document is only a draft at this stage, there's a fair chance that some alterations will be made to the wording of the description, the name of the condition or how doctors might diagnose Gaming Disorder.

The American Psychological Association claimed that playing video games can impact a child's learning, health, and social skills.

"Disorders due to addictive behaviors are recognizable and clinically significant syndromes associated with distress or interference with personal functions that develop as a result of repetitive rewarding behaviors other than the use of dependence-producing substances", the gaming-relevant section states. More recently in 2010, a couple that was occupied playing a game neglected to feed their 3-month-old baby, who died of malnutrition.

- A lot of people would say this was a long time coming.

But to be clear, this doesn't mean that all gaming is addictive or could lead to a disorder. Gamers believe that video gaming is akin to hobbies or professions.

In 2015, a 17-year-old Russian boy was rushed to hospital and died after falling into a coma while playing video games nearly continuously for 22 days, only stopping to sleep and eat.

The WHO entry does not include any information about prevention or treatment of gaming disorder, unfortunately. Second, some research has indicated that "video game addiction" is not a stable construct and clinical impairment might be low.