Excessive gaming is now a mental health disorder

Henrietta Brewer
June 20, 2018

However, Vladimir Poznyak of the WHO's Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse told New Scientist previous year, when the agency first revealed its decision to include gaming disorder in its diagnostic manual, that the move was supported by sufficient evidence.

In an announcement that will make parents around the world go, "I told you so", The World Health Organisation (WHO) has officially declared video game addiction to be a mental health disorder. Separate from addiction, this refers to a pattern of gaming that "increases the risk of harmful physical or mental health consequences for the individual or others around this individual". People with gaming disorder increasingly prioritize gaming over other activities, even when that could yield negative consequences. The number of people this might affect would be a very small percentage of people who play games.


WHO has said gaming disorder is a serious health condition that requires monitoring. According to the World Health Organization, a gamer must be showing serious side effects like disrupted sleep and diet and a sharp drop in physical activity for at least a year before they can be diagnosed with a disorder. The overwhelming majority of video game adepts are young, many in their teens. The DSM-5 calls out "Internet Gaming Disorder" but says it's a condition that warrants more clinical research and experience before it can be classified in the book as a formal disorder.

On Monday, the agency added gaming disorder to its International Classification of Diseases, which was last updated in 1990. Dr Sameer Malhotra, director- mental health and behavioural sciences at Max Healthcare says increasing screen time is leading to lack of human interaction, low emotional connection between children and adults because each one hooked on to the virtual worlds.


Gaming disorder rubs shoulders with conditions such as gambling disorder, substance abuse, and addictive hoarding in the ICD. Are you concerned they have compulsive habits? In ICD-11, these move to the sexual health section.

The new ICD-11 is also able to better capture data regarding safety in healthcare, which means that unnecessary events that may harm health - such as unsafe workflows in hospitals - can be identified and reduced, the statement said.


Gaming also piques gamers' interest in new hobbies and careers such as history (15 percent), information technology (12 percent) and art (7 percent), while 34 percent cite improved cognition, problem-solving or social skills thanks to gaming.

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