Video Game Addiction Is Officially A Mental Health Illness – World Health Organization

Video Game Addiction Identified As Mental Disorder

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has officially recognised Video game addiction as a “Gaming Disorder” at the 72nd World Health Assembly on Saturday.

The classification will go into effect from 1st January 2020.


WHO Classifies Video Game Addiction as a Qualified Mental Health Disorder.

The International Classification of Diseases (ICD) -11, a classification system used by the WHO For medical diagnosis and diseases has classified gaming disorder in Disorder due to substance use or addictive behaviours”  and it closely mirrors to the language used by the WHO to describe “gambling disorder”

Characteristics of Gaming Disorders

Addiction to Video games is characterised by persistent gaming behaviour (“Digital gaming” or “Video gaming”), which may be online or offline, manifested by –

  • Impaired control over gaming.
  • Increasing priority given to gaming to the extent that it takes over other life interests and daily activities.
  • Continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences which results in significant impairment in work, schooling, family life and even social relationships.

Extreme Cases of Gaming Are:

According to Shekhar Saxena, the WHO ‘s expert on substance abuse and mental health has revealed that most extreme cases of gaming addiction involved video game players who played for as many as 20 hours in a day and skipped out on not just social activities but have gone as far as passing up food and sleep.

And the consequences of these actions can be seen with news flooding every other day of people facing serious health problems or even as far as death.

The recent news of a 16-year-old boy named Furqan Qureshi who died because of a severe cardiac arrest which had been caused due to playing PUBG at for long hours at stretch has led to people demanding a ban on PUBG.

Other cases include, a youngster drinking acid water mistaking it for water while engrossed in playing video games.

The WHO believes that including gaming disorder as an official disease will result in increased attention of health professionals to the development of the risk and can figure out relevant prevention and treatment measures.

Find Out If You Are A Victim of Gaming Addiction?

According to Mr Saxena, majority bouts of intense gameplay is occasional or transitory behaviour.

The problem arises if the excessive gaming continuous for a year or more, though the duration may be shortened if all the diagnostic requirements are met and the symptoms are severe.

Richard Graham, a technology addiction specialist at Nightingale Hospital in London, determines if someone has the disorder based on if their digital life is interfering with work, sleep, health, hygiene, socializing or education.

It’s not just about the number of hours played.

Was This Decision By WHO Taken Without Evaluating All The Other Alternatives?

If we look at the other side there are many gamers who have a healthy relationship with video games.

This has resulted in an uproar by the Video Games Coalition, an industry group that represents video game manufacturers to overturn the decision, stating that the video games are enjoyed safely and sensibly by more than 2 billion people.

There is also evidence pointing to the educational, therapeutic and recreational value of video games. The group believes that the WHO has made a decision without giving it enough thought.

What is your stand on the decision taken by the WHO? Do let us know in the comments below.

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