Video Gaming Can Be a Mental Disorder: World Health Organization
The World Health Organization's manual of disease classifications has officially designated video game addiction as a mental health disorder.
The WHO approved the eleventh revision of its International Classification of Diseases (ICD) this past week, including "gaming disorder" under a section of disorders due to addictive behaviors, which also includes gambling disorders. Health officials, insurance providers and care providers around the world use the ICD as the primary standard for diagnosing diseases and reporting health statistics. The new edition is set to take effect in 2022.
Under the new criteria, someone with a gaming disorder is unable to easily stop playing video games, even as the habit disrupts other important aspects of a healthy life, such as sleeping, relationships, and work or school for at least one year, NPR reported, though that timeframe can be shortened if the symptoms are severe enough.
The WHO said this is much different from simply playing video games regularly and likely represents a small part of those who participate in gaming. Pew research indicates that in the U.S., 97 percent of teenage boys and 83 percent of girls play some kind of video game, NPR reported.
For gamers to be diagnosed with an addiction, they must have "impaired control over gaming," let gaming take "precedence over other life interests" and do so "despite the occurrence of negative consequences" to one's "personal, family, social, educational, occupational" life, according to the new listing.
"We have, as a society, gone all-in on tech," Dr. Nicholas Kardaras, author of the 2016 book Glow Kids: How Screen Addiction Is Hijacking Our Kids, told NPR. "So we don't want some buzz-killing truth sayers telling us that the emperor has no clothes and that the devices that we've all so fallen in love with can be a problem."
But not everyone is on board with the new update. Many health experts believe there isn't yet enough science-based evidence on gaming for WHO to create the listing, USA Today reported, citing a 2018 paper published in the Journal of Behavioral Addictions by an international team of health experts.
"Risk of abuse of a formalized new disorder that solely involves the behavior of playing video games — a stigmatized entertainment activity — can only expand the false-positive issues in psychiatry," the researchers found. USA Today also noted that the American Psychiatric Association said there is not "sufficient evidence" for gaming addiction to be officially designated as a "unique mental disorder." The video game industry also pushed back on the designation.
The decision was first announced by the WHO in 2018 and the organization said it was based on "reviews of available evidence and a consensus of experts." The WHO's mental health and substance abuse expert, Shekhar Saxena, told Reuters that gaming addiction was an "occasional or transitory behaviour."
The WHO also included workplace stress in its ICD update.
Burn-out, which the WHO considers a "syndrome" due to "chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed," is now listed as an "occupational phenomenon," CBS News reported. The diagnosis is met when an individual feels exhausted, mentally distanced from their job and has difficulty doing their job successfully. Despite early headlines, the WHO stopped short of considering burn-out at work as a medical disease.
- Redwoods are the world's tallest trees.
- Now scientists have discovered they are even bigger than we thought.
- Using laser technology they map the 80-meter giants.
- Trees are a key plank in the fight against climate change.
They are among the largest trees in the world, descendants of forests where dinosaurs roamed.
Pixabay / Simi Luft<p><span>Until recently, measuring these trees meant scaling their 80 meter high trunks with a tape measure. Now, a team of scientists from University College London and the University of Maryland uses advanced laser scanning, to create 3D maps and calculate the total mass.</span></p><p>The results are striking: suggesting the trees <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">may be as much as 30% larger than earlier measurements suggested.</a> Part of that could be due to the additional trunks the Redwoods can grow as they age, <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">a process known as reiteration</a>.</p>
New 3D measurements of large redwood trees for biomass and structure. Nature / UCL<p>Measuring the trees more accurately is important because carbon capture will probably play a key role in the battle against climate change. Forest <a href="https://www.wri.org/blog/2020/09/carbon-sequestration-natural-forest-regrowth" target="_blank">growth could absorb billions of tons</a> of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere each year.</p><p>"The importance of big trees is widely-recognised in terms of carbon storage, demographics and impact on their surrounding ecosystems," the authors wrote<a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank"> in the journal Nature</a>. "Unfortunately the importance of big trees is in direct proportion to the difficulty of measuring them."</p><p>Redwoods are so long lived because of their ability to <a href="https://www.nature.com/articles/s41598-020-73733-6" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">cope with climate change, resist disease and even survive fire damage</a>, the scientists say. Almost a fifth of their volume may be bark, which helps protect them.</p>
Carbon Capture Champions<p><span>Earlier research by scientists at Humboldt University and the University of Washington found that </span><a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0378112716302584" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Redwood forests store almost 2,600 tonnes of carbon per hectare</a><span>, their bark alone containing more carbon than any other neighboring species.</span></p><p>While the importance of trees in fighting climate change is widely accepted, not all species enjoy the same protection as California's coastal Redwoods. In 2019 the world lost the equivalent of <a href="https://www.worldwildlife.org/threats/deforestation-and-forest-degradation" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">30 soccer fields of forest cover every minute</a>, due to agricultural expansion, logging and fires, according to The Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF).</p>
Pixabay<p>Although <a href="https://c402277.ssl.cf1.rackcdn.com/publications/1420/files/original/Deforestation_fronts_-_drivers_and_responses_in_a_changing_world_-_full_report_%281%29.pdf?1610810475" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">the rate of loss is reported to have slowed in recent years</a>, reforesting the world to help stem climate change is a massive task.</p><p><span>That's why the World Economic Forum launched the Trillion Trees Challenge (</span><a href="https://www.1t.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">1t.org</a><span>) and is engaging organizations and individuals across the globe through its </span><a href="https://uplink.weforum.org/uplink/s/uplink-issue/a002o00000vOf09AAC/trillion-trees" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Uplink innovation crowdsourcing platform</a><span> to support the project.</span></p><p>That's backed up by research led by ETH Zurich/Crowther Lab showing there's potential to restore tree coverage across 2.2 billion acres of degraded land.</p><p>"Forests are critical to the health of the planet," according to <a href="https://www.1t.org/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">1t.org</a>. "They sequester carbon, regulate global temperatures and freshwater flows, recharge groundwater, anchor fertile soil and act as flood barriers."</p><p><em data-redactor-tag="em" data-verified="redactor">Reposted with permission from the </em><span><em data-redactor-tag="em" data-verified="redactor"><a href="https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2021/03/redwoods-store-more-co2-and-are-more-enormous-than-we-thought/" target="_blank">World Economic Forum</a>.</em></span></p>
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