World Health Organization to classify video game addiction as mental illness

Gaming disorder to be named a mental health condition for the first time

The World Health Organization is researching how much addiction has to do with video gaming.

The inclusion of gaming disorder in the ICD-11 means health care workers and doctors can now diagnose someone with the condition.

Can excessive video gaming become a health hazard?

The beta draft guidance mentions that video game playing, either offline or online, must be "normally evident over a period of at least 12 months" for this diagnosis to be made.

Its symptoms include the inability to control when and how to play video games.

Standard treatment for technology-associated addictive behaviour, he said, involves quantifying gaming patterns, assessing dysfunctions and motivating patients to initially change lifestyles to reduce gaming durations. Surprisingly, internet and mobile devices have yet to be included in this list, but it seems to only be a matter of time, as the gaming addiction definition has been in the works longer.

According to the marketing group NPD, video game console spending in the U.S.is up 27 percent from past year, up to $1.9 billion.

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The decision is in contrast to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorder, Fifth Edition (DSM-5), released by the American Psychiatric Association in 2013.

The Independent reports that only 2 to 3 percent gamers reported five or more symptoms associated with gaming disorder, according to a 2016 University of Oxford study of 19,000 gamers in Germany, the United Kingdom, the USA and Canada.

The WHO is considering labeling excess gaming as a mental health issue. What's worth focusing on, they say, is less the "gaming" aspect of that behavior, but the "overdoing" aspect.

World Health Organization spokesperson Tarik Jasarevic said that game disorder is not limited to time spent in front of screens.

That's concerning news for the thousands of people who got a game under the tree for Christmas. For example, action video games could improve cognitive skills, perception, and reasoning.

Do you devote a significant portion of your life to video games?

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