Quantcast

Video Gaming Can Be a Mental Disorder: World Health Organization

Health + Wellness
Gamers play Fortnite at PAX West 2018 in Seattle, Washington. Kyle Gaddo / Flickr

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.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Natural Resources Defense Council

By Emily Deanne

Shower shoes? Check. Extra-long sheets? Yep. Energy efficiency checklist? No worries — we've got you covered there. If you're one of the nation's 12.1 million full-time undergraduate college students, you no doubt have a lot to keep in mind as you head off to school. If you're reading this, climate change is probably one of them, and with one-third of students choosing to live on campus, dorm life can have a big impact on the health of our planet. In fact, the annual energy use of one typical dormitory room can generate as much greenhouse gas pollution as the tailpipe emissions of a car driven more than 156,000 miles.

Read More Show Less
Kokia drynarioides, commonly known as Hawaiian tree cotton, is a critically endangered species of flowering plant that is endemic to the Big Island of Hawaii. David Eickhoff / Wikipedia

By Lorraine Chow

Kokia drynarioides is a small but significant flowering tree endemic to Hawaii's dry forests. Native Hawaiians used its large, scarlet flowers to make lei. Its sap was used as dye for ropes and nets. Its bark was used medicinally to treat thrush.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Frederick Bass / Getty Images

States that invest heavily in renewable energy will generate billions of dollars in health benefits in the next decade instead of spending billions to take care of people getting sick from air pollution caused by burning fossil fuels, according to a new study from MIT and reported on by The Verge.

Read More Show Less
Aerial view of lava flows from the eruption of volcano Kilauea on Hawaii, May 2018. Frizi / iStock / Getty Images

Hawaii's Kilauea volcano could be gearing up for an eruption after a pond of water was discovered inside its summit crater for the first time in recorded history, according to the AP.

Read More Show Less
A couple works in their organic garden. kupicoo / E+ / Getty Images

By Kristin Ohlson

From where I stand inside the South Dakota cornfield I was visiting with entomologist and former USDA scientist Jonathan Lundgren, all the human-inflicted traumas to Earth seem far away. It isn't just that the corn is as high as an elephant's eye — are people singing that song again? — but that the field burgeons and buzzes and chirps with all sorts of other life, too.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
A competitor in action during the Drambuie World Ice Golf Championships in Uummannaq, Greenland on April 9, 2001. Michael Steele / Allsport / Getty Images

Greenland is open for business, but it's not for sale, Greenland's foreign minister Ane Lone Bagger told Reuters after hearing that President Donald Trump asked his advisers about the feasibility of buying the world's largest island.

Read More Show Less
AFP / Getty Images / S. Platt

Humanity faced its hottest month in at least 140 years in July, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said on Thursday. The finding confirms similar analysis provided by its EU counterparts.

Read More Show Less
Newly established oil palm plantation in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia. Rhett A. Butler / Mongabay

By Hans Nicholas Jong

Indonesia's president has made permanent a temporary moratorium on forest-clearing permits for plantations and logging.

It's a policy the government says has proven effective in curtailing deforestation, but whose apparent gains have been criticized by environmental activists as mere "propaganda."

Read More Show Less