WHO Classifies Gaming Addiction as Mental Disorder

Picture of someone holding a video game controller, signifying a gaming addiction.

Much to the dismay of avid video gamers around the world, the World Health Organization has classified gaming addiction as a mental health condition for the first time. Gaming disorder was included in the 11th International Classification of Diseases. Many countries around the globe have already identified chronic gaming as a public health condition, prior to this new classification.

According to the WHO, gaming disorder is a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behavior that is so severe that it takes precedent over other life interests. Some of the symptoms include:

  • Impaired control over gaming frequency, intensity and duration
  • Increased priority given to gaming over other daily activities and interests
  • Continuance and/or escalation of gaming despite obvious negative life consequences

This new WHO classification was met with a mixture of praise and disapproval. Many opposed to the classification argued that it diminished the significance of other “real” mental illnesses and that it may confuse parents who have children who are just enthusiastic gamers. Those in favor of the decision argue that if gaming is negatively affecting basic things like sleeping, eating, work, education, fitness and socializing, that it may be a real problem that needs specialized attention.

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