Friday, 21 September, 2018

Video games 'as addictive as cocaine or gambling'

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Francis Osborne | 20 June, 2018, 03:46

Generally, the existence of gaming disorder as a true addiction has been openly debated since 2016, with UKIE outlining in its FAQ concerning the condition that "36 internationally renowned and respected mental health experts, leading social scientists and academics from research centres and prestigious universities" opposed the official recognition of the disorder.

Many parents will have thought it for a long time, but they now have a new argument to limit their children's "screen time" - addiction to video games has been recognised by World Health Organisation as a mental health disorder. The increased risk may be from the frequency of gaming, from the amount of time spent on these activities, from the neglect of other activities and priorities, from risky behaviours associated with gaming or its context, from the adverse consequences of gaming, or from the combination of these. The number of people this might affect would be a very small percentage of people who play games.

A 2015 Ontario Student Drug Use and Mental Health Survey showed that 13% of students between grades seven and 12 reported symptoms of a problem with video games. There's a difference between just enjoying playing video games and being addicted, mind; in fact, there are three primary criteria by which it's judged.

In its latest revision to a disease classification manual called the International Classification of Diseases, or I.C.D., the United Nations health agency explains the change and why it has (finally) removed the transgender mental disorder classification. "We welcome the inclusion of gaming disorder in ICD-11, which will over time help to understand the true prevalence of harmful gaming".

As video games such as Fortnite have become a ubiquitous social phenomenon for teenagers, there's growing concern in the medical community about video game addiction.

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"Gaming disorder" is officially listed alongside gambling and other abnormalities caused by addictive behaviors. Currently, gambling disorder is the only officially recognized behavioral addiction in the US, unlike in China and South Korea, which have rolled out treatment programs for gaming disorder.

The wording of the new entries has been known since January, when the World Health Organization announced problem gaming would be recognised as a pathological condition.

It also includes changes to sexual health classifications.

ICD-11 will be presented to the World Health Assembly to be voted upon in May 2019, and will go into effect in January 2022.

"A key principle in this revision was to simplify the coding structure and electronic tooling - this will allow health care professionals to more easily and completely record conditions", said Dr. Robert Jakob, leader of the WHO's Classifications Terminologies and Standards team.

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