Wed. Apr 17th, 2024

Gaming has become a popular pastime for millions of people around the world. From mobile games to console games, people of all ages and backgrounds are drawn to the immersive worlds and challenging gameplay that video games offer. However, for some individuals, gaming can become a problematic behavior that negatively impacts their daily lives. In 2018, the World Health Organization (WHO) officially recognized gaming disorder as a mental health condition. This declaration sparked intense debate and controversy among gamers, mental health professionals, and the gaming industry. In this article, we will explore the WHO’s decision to classify gaming disorder as a mental health condition and examine the potential implications of this decision.

Understanding Gaming Disorder

What is Gaming Disorder?

Definition according to the World Health Organization

Gaming disorder, as defined by the World Health Organization (WHO), is a condition characterized by a pattern of persistent and recurrent gaming behavior that leads to significant impairment or distress in an individual’s personal, family, social, educational, or occupational life. This impairment or distress must be evident for at least 12 months in order for a diagnosis of gaming disorder to be made.

Differences between Gaming Disorder and Addiction

While gaming disorder shares some similarities with addiction, it is important to note that they are not the same thing. Addiction is a broader term that can refer to a range of behaviors, including substance abuse and gambling. Gaming disorder, on the other hand, specifically refers to a pattern of excessive or compulsive gaming behavior that leads to significant impairment or distress in an individual’s life. Additionally, while addiction is typically associated with a physical dependence on a substance or behavior, gaming disorder is not necessarily associated with physical dependence. Instead, it is characterized by a loss of control over gaming behavior and its negative consequences.

Symptoms of Gaming Disorder

Gaming disorder is a newly recognized mental health condition characterized by persistent and recurrent patterns of behavior related to online gaming. This section will delve into the specific symptoms associated with gaming disorder, including behavioral, physical, and psychological manifestations.

Behavioral symptoms

Behavioral symptoms of gaming disorder include:

  • Preoccupation with online gaming, leading to a decrease in interest in previously enjoyed activities
  • Continuation of online gaming despite negative consequences, such as relationship problems or loss of employment
  • Withdrawal symptoms when unable to engage in online gaming, such as irritability or moodiness
  • Gaming for extended periods of time, often resulting in neglect of personal hygiene or basic needs
  • Attempts to reduce or stop gaming, resulting in intense cravings or urges to continue playing

Physical symptoms

Physical symptoms of gaming disorder may include:

  • Carpal tunnel syndrome or other repetitive strain injuries due to prolonged gaming sessions
  • Eye strain or vision problems from staring at a screen for extended periods of time
  • Headaches or migraines, possibly due to dehydration or poor posture
  • Sleep disturbances, such as insomnia or excessive daytime sleepiness
  • Weight gain or malnutrition due to a lack of interest in meals or proper nutrition

Psychological symptoms

Psychological symptoms of gaming disorder can include:

  • Depression or anxiety, often related to the negative consequences of excessive gaming
  • Impaired social functioning, such as reduced communication or withdrawal from social activities
  • Irritability or aggression, particularly when attempts are made to limit gaming time
  • Low self-esteem or feelings of inadequacy, potentially due to the comparison of one’s gaming abilities to others
  • Increased stress or anger, often related to the pressures of online gaming and the desire to win or succeed.

Prevalence of Gaming Disorder

The prevalence of gaming disorder is a critical aspect to consider when analyzing the World Health Organization’s (WHO) declaration of gaming disorder as a mental health condition. According to the WHO, gaming disorder is characterized by a pattern of persistent and recurrent gaming behavior that leads to significant impairment or distress. The prevalence of gaming disorder varies globally, with different age groups, and across different regions.

Global prevalence

The global prevalence of gaming disorder is estimated to be between 0.8% and 1.0% of the general population. This figure is based on studies conducted in various countries, including the United States, China, Australia, and South Korea. The prevalence of gaming disorder appears to be higher in male gamers than in female gamers, with a ratio of approximately 3:1.

Prevalence in different age groups

The prevalence of gaming disorder varies across different age groups. Studies have shown that the prevalence is highest among young adults, with a peak age range of 18 to 29 years. This is followed by a gradual decline in prevalence rates as individuals age. The prevalence among children and adolescents is relatively low, but it is still an area of concern, as young people are increasingly engaging in excessive gaming behavior.

Prevalence in different regions

The prevalence of gaming disorder also varies across different regions. Studies have shown that the prevalence is highest in East Asia, particularly in countries such as South Korea, China, and Japan. This may be attributed to the widespread availability of high-speed internet and the cultural norms that encourage extensive gaming. In contrast, the prevalence of gaming disorder is relatively low in regions such as Europe and North America, although it is still a concern.

In conclusion, the prevalence of gaming disorder is a critical aspect to consider when analyzing the WHO’s declaration of gaming disorder as a mental health condition. The global prevalence is estimated to be between 0.8% and 1.0% of the general population, with higher prevalence among young adults and males. The prevalence also varies across different regions, with the highest prevalence observed in East Asia.

The Process of Declaring Gaming Disorder

Key takeaway: Gaming disorder is a pattern of persistent and recurrent gaming behavior that leads to significant impairment or distress in an individual’s personal, family, social, educational, or occupational life. It is different from addiction, which is a broader term that can refer to a range of behaviors, including substance abuse and gambling. Gaming disorder is characterized by behavioral, physical, and psychological manifestations, including preoccupation with online gaming, continuation of online gaming despite negative consequences, withdrawal symptoms when unable to engage in online gaming, gaming for extended periods of time, attempts to reduce or stop gaming, leading to intense cravings or urges to continue playing, physical symptoms such as Carpal tunnel syndrome or other repetitive strain injuries due to prolonged gaming sessions, eye strain or vision problems from staring at a screen for extended periods of time, headaches or migraines, possibly due to dehydration or poor posture, sleep disturbances, such as insomnia or excessive daytime sleepiness, weight gain or malnutrition due to a lack of interest in meals or proper nutrition, and psychological symptoms such as depression or anxiety, often related to the negative consequences of excessive gaming, impaired social functioning, such as reduced communication or withdrawal from social activities, irritability or aggression, particularly when attempts are made to limit gaming time, low self-esteem or feelings of inadequacy, potentially due to the comparison of one’s gaming abilities to others, and increased stress or anger, often related to the pressures of online gaming and the desire to win or succeed. The prevalence of gaming disorder varies globally, with different age groups, and across different regions.

The World Health Organization’s Classification of Diseases

What is ICD-11?

The International Classification of Diseases (ICD) is a standardized system of codes used to classify diseases, injuries, and causes of death. The World Health Organization (WHO) first introduced ICD in 1893, and since then, it has been continuously updated to reflect advances in medical knowledge and changes in disease patterns. ICD-11 is the latest version of the classification system, released in 2018.

How is ICD-11 different from ICD-10?

ICD-11 differs from its predecessor, ICD-10, in several ways. ICD-11 is more comprehensive, with new categories added to reflect current health concerns such as digital and online health-related issues. Additionally, ICD-11 has improved data quality, incorporates new scientific knowledge, and is more user-friendly. It also includes enhanced diagnostic tools and better alignment with other international classifications, such as the International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health (ICF).

The process of including a condition in ICD-11

The process of including a condition in ICD-11 involves several steps. First, relevant scientific evidence must be reviewed and evaluated by experts. This evidence may include epidemiological data, clinical studies, and other relevant research. Once the evidence is assessed, the WHO may propose the inclusion of a new condition or the revision of an existing one. This proposal is then discussed and voted upon by member countries of the WHO. If the proposal is approved, the condition is added to the ICD-11 classification system.

Controversy surrounding the Declaration

The declaration of gaming disorder by the World Health Organization (WHO) has been a topic of controversy, with arguments both in favor of and against the recognition of gaming disorder as a legitimate mental health condition.

Arguments in favor of the declaration

  • Supporters of the declaration argue that recognizing gaming disorder as a mental health condition is a crucial step towards providing adequate treatment and support for individuals struggling with excessive gaming behavior.
  • Proponents also point out that the inclusion of gaming disorder in the International Classification of Diseases (ICD) provides a standardized framework for healthcare professionals to diagnose and treat individuals with gaming-related issues.
  • Additionally, some argue that the declaration highlights the potential negative consequences of excessive gaming, encouraging responsible gaming practices and raising awareness about the importance of moderation.

Arguments against the declaration

  • Critics of the declaration argue that the evidence supporting the recognition of gaming disorder as a distinct mental health condition is limited and inconclusive.
  • Some critics contend that the declaration may pathologize normal, harmless behavior and lead to overdiagnosis and overtreatment of individuals who engage in excessive gaming.
  • Additionally, opponents of the declaration argue that it may perpetuate negative stereotypes and stigmatization of gamers, potentially harming the gaming community and its perceived legitimacy as a hobby and form of entertainment.

Impact of the declaration on the gaming industry

  • The declaration of gaming disorder has had significant implications for the gaming industry, with some companies taking steps to address the potential negative consequences of excessive gaming behavior.
  • However, the impact of the declaration on the industry is not entirely negative, as it also presents opportunities for the development of responsible gaming practices and the promotion of healthy gaming habits.
  • The declaration has prompted discussions around the ethical and social responsibilities of the gaming industry, with some arguing that the industry has a responsibility to promote healthy gaming behaviors and prevent the development of gaming disorder.

Implications of the Declaration

Consequences for gamers

Access to treatment

The WHO’s declaration of gaming disorder has significant implications for individuals who struggle with excessive gaming. With the recognition of gaming disorder as a distinct mental health condition, individuals who previously may not have had access to treatment can now seek help from healthcare professionals. This can include receiving psychotherapy, medication, or other forms of treatment that are tailored to address the specific needs of individuals struggling with gaming disorder.

Stigma surrounding gaming disorder

Despite the growing recognition of gaming disorder as a legitimate mental health condition, there is still a significant amount of stigma surrounding it. Some individuals may view individuals with gaming disorder as being weak or lacking in self-control, which can lead to feelings of shame and embarrassment. This stigma can make it difficult for individuals to seek help and can also contribute to feelings of isolation and disconnection.

Changes in gaming behavior

The WHO’s declaration of gaming disorder may also have implications for the way that individuals approach gaming. With the recognition of gaming disorder as a distinct mental health condition, individuals may be more likely to engage in responsible gaming practices, such as setting limits on the amount of time spent gaming or taking breaks from gaming to engage in other activities. This can help to reduce the risk of developing gaming disorder and can also improve overall well-being.

However, it is important to note that not all individuals who engage in excessive gaming will develop gaming disorder. Gaming can be a healthy and enjoyable activity when approached in a balanced and responsible manner.

Consequences for the gaming industry

Regulation of gaming content

The World Health Organization’s (WHO) declaration of gaming disorder has significant implications for the gaming industry. One of the most notable consequences is the potential for increased regulation of gaming content. This could lead to the creation of more stringent guidelines and standards for the development and distribution of video games.

Responsibility of the gaming industry in addressing gaming disorder

Another consequence of the WHO’s declaration is the responsibility that falls on the gaming industry to address gaming disorder. This may involve the development of tools and resources to help individuals who may be struggling with problematic gaming behaviors. It may also involve working with mental health professionals to ensure that individuals who may be struggling with gaming disorder receive appropriate treatment and support.

Changes in marketing strategies

The WHO’s declaration may also lead to changes in marketing strategies for the gaming industry. In light of the potential negative consequences of excessive gaming, it may be necessary for the industry to re-evaluate the ways in which they market their products. This could involve a shift towards more responsible marketing practices, such as emphasizing the importance of moderation and encouraging healthy gaming habits.

Future research on gaming disorder

Current gaps in research

One of the main challenges in studying gaming disorder is the lack of a standardized diagnostic criteria. This makes it difficult to accurately diagnose and treat individuals with gaming disorder. Additionally, there is a lack of understanding of the underlying mechanisms that contribute to the development of gaming disorder.

Potential future research directions

Future research on gaming disorder could focus on developing more accurate diagnostic criteria and identifying the underlying mechanisms that contribute to the development of gaming disorder. Research could also explore the effectiveness of different treatment approaches for gaming disorder, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy and medication.

Another area of potential research is the exploration of the impact of gaming disorder on various aspects of an individual’s life, such as their social, occupational, and financial functioning. Additionally, research could investigate the potential long-term effects of gaming disorder on physical and mental health.

The role of technology in studying gaming disorder

As technology continues to advance, it is likely that new forms of gaming, such as virtual reality and augmented reality, will emerge. These new forms of gaming could potentially increase the risk of developing gaming disorder. Therefore, it is important to study the impact of these new technologies on the development and treatment of gaming disorder.

Furthermore, technology could play a role in the diagnosis and treatment of gaming disorder. For example, smartphone apps could be developed to help individuals monitor their gaming behavior and receive treatment recommendations. Additionally, online support groups could be created to provide individuals with gaming disorder with a supportive community.

FAQs

1. What is gaming disorder according to the World Health Organization (WHO)?

Gaming disorder is a condition that has been officially recognized by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a mental health disorder. It is characterized by a pattern of persistent and recurrent gaming behavior that leads to significant impairment or distress in an individual’s personal, social, or professional life. This can include problems such as preoccupation with gaming, withdrawal symptoms when not able to play, and continued involvement in gaming despite negative consequences.

2. How is gaming disorder different from regular gaming?

Regular gaming is a common and generally harmless leisure activity enjoyed by millions of people around the world. Gaming disorder, on the other hand, is a more extreme form of gaming that can become problematic and lead to negative consequences for an individual’s life. While some people may engage in excessive gaming without experiencing any negative effects, for others, gaming disorder can lead to significant impairment in their daily lives.

3. Who is most likely to develop gaming disorder?

Anyone who plays video games can potentially develop gaming disorder, regardless of age, gender, or cultural background. However, some factors may increase the risk of developing gaming disorder, such as a history of mental health disorders, a lack of social support, or a tendency towards addictive behaviors.

4. How is gaming disorder diagnosed?

Gaming disorder is diagnosed by a mental health professional, such as a psychologist or psychiatrist, based on a thorough assessment of an individual’s symptoms and behavior. The diagnosis requires evidence of a pattern of persistent and recurrent gaming behavior that leads to significant impairment or distress in an individual’s personal, social, or professional life.

5. What treatment options are available for gaming disorder?

Treatment for gaming disorder typically involves a combination of psychotherapy, self-help strategies, and support from family and friends. Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is often used to help individuals identify and change unhealthy thought patterns and behaviors related to gaming. Medications may also be prescribed in some cases to address underlying mental health issues that contribute to gaming disorder.

6. Is gaming disorder a new phenomenon?

While the concept of gaming disorder is relatively new, excessive and problematic gaming behaviors have been reported for decades. With the increasing popularity of video games and the widespread availability of internet access, gaming disorder has become more common in recent years. The WHO’s recognition of gaming disorder as a mental health disorder has brought increased attention to this issue and highlighted the need for further research and treatment options.

World Health Organization declares Gaming Disorder a mental health condition – ABC News

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