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Is Gaming Addiction A Health Disorder?

Gaming addiction will now be listed amongst the recognized mental health disorders for the first time by the World Health Organization. In the 11th International Classification of Diseases (ICD), this condition known as the ‘gaming disorder’ will be included.

A draft document describes this condition as a ‘persistent pattern of recurring gaming behavior, which is so severe that it will take precedence over other interests of life.’ Many countries have private addiction clinics to treat such a condition but never has it been classified on such a mass scale.

This document contains a guide for the disorder and a classified abnormal behavior can be over a period of 12 months or more for an official diagnosis to be assigned. It also warns that if the pattern is severe, then this period can be shortened accordingly.

The WHO identifies the following symptoms;

  • Increasing priority given to gaming
  • To continue of increasing gaming periods even though the individual faces the negative consequences
  • An impaired control over duration, frequency and intensity of gaming

Dr, Richard Graham, who is a leading specialist of this disorder, sympathized with gaming enthusiast who may not be addicted but will have confused parents limiting their activities. This is why gaming addiction is a disorder which is listed under a condition which needs further study.

In Japan, each month the internet giant alerts players as to the proposed amounts of times that should be allowed for games. These allow people to set limited hours for their children to play games. In comparison, the University of Oxford revealed in their study that children may spend a lot of hours staring at their screens, but they generally manage to synergize this with their daily activities.

A lot of countries are currently grappling with this issue. South Korea for example had recently introduced a law to ban access of online games for children under the age of 16 in the time period of midnight to six in the a.m.

Dr Richard Graham, in his illustration of his research, said that he sees approximately 50+ cases of digital addiction which affects basic elements of people such as socializing, education, sleeping and eating. A prerequisite to his research was the question of whether the addiction is replacing thinking processes and preoccupation in the gamers’ neurological system.

Killian Mullan, another researcher in this field of study was quoted to have a different opinion. He said that people were of the opinion that children who spent time in front of screen, even if it was up to 24/7, their exclusion of other activities may not be due to addiction. His research stated that technology is being used for support a range of activities such as homework or the likes, and hence they cannot simply push this factor out.

Even in the case of adults, the spread of digital tech usage in a day is for a number of activities and whether this constitutes to addiction, is as mentioned above, still subject to further research.