The World Health Organization just codified ‘Gaming Disorder,’ and people have opinions
Kids who can’t seem to get enough of Fortnite apparently might not just love their favorite game. They actually may have a legitimate addiction. At least, that’s according to the World Health Organization (WHO), which officially codified “Gaming Disorder” in its latest International Classification of Diseases, which was released today.
According to WHO, Gaming Disorder differs from regular gaming. That’s because it involves some extreme factors, including:
- persistent and recurring gaming
- impaired control over when and how often to play
- giving video games precedence over other activities, including necessary ones like work and school
- continuing to play, even if there are negative consequences
WHO also notes that Gaming Disorder requires severe enough symptoms to impact the person’s personal, family, social, educational or work life. It also calls for recurring symptoms over a period of at least 12 months, so if your kid is obsessed with a new game for a while and then loses interest, it probably doesn’t qualify.
In layman’s terms, gaming disorder is like any other addiction. It needs to cause negative consequences and interfere with other activities. The person also needs to be unable to control it. Otherwise, it’s just gaming, which isn’t a problem.
Of course, this decision by WHO is pretty controversial. On Twitter, people are speaking out on both sides of the issue.
Some are referencing studies that show evidence both for and against classifying gaming addiction as a mental illness.
Gaming addiction listed as a mental health condition for the first time by the World Health Organization.
Evidence shows that gaming addiction is best viewed as a coping mechanism associated with underlying problems such as anxiety or depression.https://t.co/thyqWqQQ3u
— The Conversation (@ConversationUK) June 18, 2018
The World Health Organization is on the verge of officially recognizing gaming disorder, based on their thorough analysis of research in the area: https://t.co/sL37eyUaqh— Cam Adair (@camerondare) June 8, 2018
A study by CAMH found 13% of students grade 7-12 report symptoms of a problem: https://t.co/W9Zuobx2jI
Others are pointing out similarities between video games and gambling, which is already a recognized addiction.
This makes perfect sense. And important today with the current climate of the video game industry where micro transactions and pay for perks are becoming the norm in mainstream gaming. Very similar affect to the slot machine reward system that triggers addiction. https://t.co/FzHclqmzVA
— Brandt Brickell (@brandt_brickell) June 18, 2018
So "Gaming Disorder" is now actually recognised.
If this isn't the wake up call people need that the mental health crisis sweeping our species is due to rabid corporatist capitalism, I don't know what is. pic.twitter.com/AdHsB9B1dU
— Steve Topple (@MrTopple) June 17, 2018
Others, though, think this is all overblown, and video games are a good thing for many people.
And still others point out that addiction can happen with anything, because it’s about the symptoms, not the activity.
Looks like there’s still a bit to go: “Absolutely anything -- watching too much football on TV, doing too much research -- could be considered behaviorally addictive if mental health professionals don't insist on more rigorous study of the issue.”— Ryan Chen (@ryanjengchen) June 18, 2018
WHO argues that this classification will make it easier for people who are addicted to gaming to seek treatment. But that isn’t sitting well with everyone, either.
Imagine threatening to call the doc on your Fortnite-addicted friend https://t.co/caPAu77Cli
— Ryan Chen (@ryanjengchen) June 18, 2018
But whether people agree or not, this is official. And like with any activity, making sure it doesn’t interfere with other aspects of your kid’s life is probably for the best.