Gaming addiction is to be classified as a mental health disorder by the World Health Organisation. Its 11th International Classification of Diseases (ICD) will include the condition “gaming disorder”. Currently, in draft format, the document describes the disorder as “precedence over other life interests”.
Dr. Richard Graham, lead technology addiction specialist at the Nightingale Hospital in London spoke about the disorder, saying “It is significant because it creates the opportunity for more specialized services. It puts it on the map as something to take seriously.” Dr. Graham noted that he sees around 50 new patients per week with symptoms that would match the new definition.
In recent years the problem has become more prevalent especially in Asia. South Korea has even gone as far as banning under 16’s from playing between midnight and 06:00. There are also similar concerns in Japan, where players are warned about potential overconsumption of games.
University of Oxford Researcher Killian Mullan said:
“People think that children are addicted to technology and in front of these screens 24/7, to the exclusion of other activities – and we now know that is not the case. Our findings show that technology is being used with and in some cases perhaps to support other activities, like homework for instance, and not pushing them out,” he added.
The research from the University showed that while children spent longer than ever playing games, they seemed very capable of striking a balance themselves. This would seem to be against the general feeling on the subject, but researchers are certain that children manage themselves well in the circumstance.
It will be interesting to see if the industry offers any help with these disorders like the alcohol industry and tobacco industry have had to in the past, though not of their own accord. Governments around the World have a job on their hands holding the industry to account and making them assist in fixing the problem.