WHO classifies video game addiction a mental health disorder

Gaming disorder is a mental health condition

Addictively playing video game Fortnite could indicate something more worrisome, according to the World Health Organization.

According to the newly updated classification, there are three major signs to diagnose gaming disorder in a person.

Others welcomed the move, saying it was critical to identify video game addicts quickly because they are usually teenagers or young adults who do not seek help themselves. Finally, gaming continues - or escalates - despite leading to negative consequences.

According to the World Health Organization, the gaming behaviour and related features have to be observed in an individual over a period of 12 months for an official diagnosis to be considered.

Video games are built on the same types of algorithms that make other types of games and media addictive, including smartphones and social media.

Why was gaming disorder included in ICD-11?

"ICD is a cornerstone of health information and ICD-11 will deliver an up-to-date view of the patterns of disease", said Lubna Alansari, WHO's Assistant Director-General (Health Metrics and Measurement).

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The inclusion of "gaming disorder" in WHO's revised catalogue of diseases met with resistance, both from industry and some experts.

The WHO writes: "Studies suggest that gaming disorder affects only a small proportion of people who engage in digital- or video-gaming activities". He adds that the organization followed "the trends, the developments, which have taken place in populations and in the professional field".

Priority given to gaming that overrides other interests and daily activities.

But just because they play video games regularly doesn't mean they have a problem.

The classification is aimed at alerting health professionals and systems to the existence of this condition and ensuring that people suffering from these conditions can get appropriate help.

"A lot of people use games recreationally, use games for educational purposes.But for a subset of people, this becomes compulsive and really addictive", Dr. Petros Levounis with Rutgers Medical School said. "But if they keep their grades up (and their) friends and hobbies, then it's not an addiction", Gentile said. "(It) undermines the ability of public health professions to do their jobs if we're second-guessing them and their work". We are therefore concerned to see "gaming disorder" still contained in the latest version of the WHO's ICD-11 despite significant opposition from the medical and scientific community.

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