WHO classifies video game addiction as a mental health disorder

Video gaming addiction has been officially declared a mental health disorder by the World Health Organization (WHO).

Following discussions that lasted over a year after being listed in the 11th International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11), the WHO delegates voted on Saturday, 25 May to include uncontrolled digital gaming addiction as a disease.

The new revision would be enforced in 2022, requiring governments to include online and offline gaming addiction in their public health policies.

Video game addiction is placed under the category of “disorders due to substance use or addictive behaviors” along with alcoholism and gambling addiction. Video games addicts will soon have to undergo a specified treatment regimen.

The ICD-11 defines online and offline gaming disorder as a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behavior.

The addiction, according to the WHO, leads to impaired control over gaming (e.g., onset, frequency, intensity, duration, termination, context). It increases the priority given to gaming to the extent that video games take precedence over other life interests and daily activities. The pattern continues or escalates despite the occurrence of negative consequences.

The behavior pattern is of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.

With incidents like suicides and extreme behavior triggered by online game addiction, governments have been seriously considering banning or restricting them.

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