‘Gaming Disorder’ to be Classified as an Addictive Mental Health Condition

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The list of things that aren’t good for you continues to grow. The World Health Organization, one of the global entities in charge of this list, is considering adding a new mental health condition to the list. “Gaming disorder” may be the latest addition to the International Classification of Diseases (ICD).

The 11th version will be the latest update, and the mental health of (mostly) our youth will be taken into consideration. A draft of the document is circulating now and it includes the new syndrome.

The problem, as Business Insider writes, is that “a pastime can become problematic if it leads to a form of addictive behavior.”

“Specifically, the draft’s language states¬†that gaming behavior could be a disorder if it meets three characteristics: if a person loses control over their gaming habits, if they start to prioritize gaming over many other interests or activities, and if they continue playing despite clear negative consequences.”

This new classification puts gaming along side other addictive behaviors, like gambling, and compares the consequences to habitual abuse of substances drugs like nicotine, caffeine, or alcohol.

By naming the condition, doctors and health professionals can now treat something many (especially parents) have long ago identified as a problem.

“But to be clear,” BI notes, “this doesn’t mean that all gaming is addictive or could lead to a disorder. It’s only if the behavior is severe enough ‘to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning,’ according to the draft. In other words, it has to be intense enough to harm personal relationships or interfere with school or work.”

The real questions remains how doctors will decide when the behavior has reached an extreme status. The answer may depend on the specific factors evinced by each individual patient.

There are clear positive benefits to gaming, when the practice is done in moderation. Games can build community, relieve stress, and promote technological literacy. Games even help develop problem solving and hand-eye coordination.