For the first time, gaming disorder is soon going to be classified as a mental health disorder, according to The International Classification of Diseases, the diagnostic manual published by the World Health Organization.
The manual was last updated in 1990, 27 years ago. This upcoming version will be the eleventh edition, due out in 2018, and will include gaming disorder as a serious health condition that needs to be monitored, The Independent reports.
The wording on gaming disorder has yet to be revealed, but the draft provides the criteria necessary to determine whether someone can be said to have a gaming disorder.
Vladimir Poznyak, a member of the WHO’s Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, said that it is important to recognize gaming disorder as an important health issue. He said,
Health professionals need to recognise that gaming disorder may have serious health consequences.
Poznyak added, “Most people who play video games don’t have a disorder, just like most people who drink alcohol don’t have a disorder either. However, in certain circumstances overuse can lead to adverse effects.”
In 2016, researchers at the University of Oxford’s Internet Institute conducted a study on how many gamers were addicted to video games. The study, published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, discovered that only two to three percent of 19,000 gamers from the UK, the United States, Canada and Germany admitted to experiencing five or more of the symptoms listed by the American Psychiatric Association.
The APA created a list of nine standard symptoms to determine “internet gaming disorder” a few years ago, which included anxiety, withdrawal symptoms and antisocial behavior.
Dr. Andrew Przybylski, lead author from the University of Oxford study, said, “To our knowledge, these are the first findings from a large-scale project to produce robust evidence on the potential new problem of ‘internet gaming disorder.’” He further explained, “Contrary to what was predicted, the study did not find a clear link between potential addiction and negative effects on health, however, more research grounded in open and robust scientific practices is needed to learn if games are truly as addictive as many fear.”