‘Gaming Addiction’ to be Listed as a Mental Health Condition
The World Health Organisation will list ‘gaming disorder’ in its 11th International Classification of Diseases (ICD)
An updated guide, which is used by doctors and researchers to track and diagnose disease, will list the ‘gaming disorder’ as showing a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behaviour so severe that it takes “precedence over other life interests”. Many countries, including the UK, already have private addiction clinics which 'treat' the condition, and some countries have identified it as a major public health issue.
Symptoms of the disorder will include:
The guide will explain that abnormal gaming behaviour should be evident over a period of at least 12 months in order for a “diagnosis to be assigned”, however if “symptoms are severe” then that period may well be shortened.
At the moment, internet gaming disorder is only listed as a “condition for further study” in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which is a guide that many psychiatrists refer to.
The decision to now fully recognise the condition has been greatly received by Dr Richard Graham, lead technology addiction specialist at the Nightingale Hospital in London, who sees around 50 new cases of digital addiction each year.
"It is significant because it creates the opportunity for more specialised services. It puts it on the map as something to take seriously."
However, he did acknowledge the potential for confusion: "It could lead to confused parents whose children are just enthusiastic gamers." To determine the severity, Dr Graham asks himself: “Is the addiction taking up neurological real-estate, dominate thinking and preoccupation?”
Many countries are now finding ways to combat the issue, with the government in South Korea banning online games access for under 16s between midnight and 6am, and in Japan, players are alerted if they spend more than a certain amount of time each month playing games.