WHO to recognize gaming disorder as mental health condition in 2018

Faith Castro
January 5, 2018

"The exact text describes it as "(disorders) due to addictive behaviours are recognizable and clinically significant syndromes associated with distress or interference with personal functions that develop as a result of repetitive rewarding behaviours other than the use of dependence-producing substances.

The World Health Organization plans to include "gaming disorder" on its list of mental health conditions in 2018, and much of that research comes from Iowa State professor Douglas Gentile and what he found over the course of his two-year national study. Gentile found that almost 9 percent of children who play video games develop what's called "gaming addiction".

He said he sees about 50 new cases of digital addiction each year and his criteria is based on whether the activity is affecting basic things such as sleep, eating, socialising and education. But he conceded that: "It could lead to confused parents whose children are just enthusiastic gamers". It still needs to be approved and this is what the Entertainment Software Association (ESA) wants to stop, GamesIndustry.biz reports. "The World Health Organisation knows that common sense and objective research prove video games are not addictive". We strongly encourage the World Health Organization to reverse direction on its proposed action'.

"Across all demographics, more and more people are playing games on their PCs, consoles and cellphones than ever before".

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In that, internet gaming disorder is listed as a "condition for further study", meaning it is not officially recognised.

Perhaps the crucial part of the WHO's decision is centred on how it draws the line between healthy and unhealthy levels of gaming.

It will suggest that abnormal gaming behaviour should be in evidence over a period of at least 12 months "for a diagnosis to be assigned" but added that period might be shortened "if symptoms are severe".

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