Jennifer Golbeck Ph.D.

Jennifer Golbeck Ph.D.

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Video Gaming Disorder Is Now a Mental Health Condition

The World Health Organization diagnostic manual will name the condition in 2018

Posted Dec 26, 2017

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Computing can become problematic when it models other addictive behaviors. Whether it's gaming, internet use, or social media interactions, if those behaviors start to interfere with someone's life, it enters the realm of a psychological disorder.

In 2018, problems related to video games will receive their own designation. The World Health Organization (WHO) plans to include Gaming Disorder in their diagnostic manual, the International Classification of Diseases, in its next release. Gaming Disorder is classified under Disorders Due to Addictive Behaviors joining Gambling Disorder as the only other condition under that heading. While the final language is not set, the current draft includes many familiar characteristics of addiction:

Gaming disorder is characterized by a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behaviour (‘digital gaming’ or ‘video-gaming’), which may be online (i.e., over the internet) or offline, manifested by: 1) impaired control over gaming (e.g., onset, frequency, intensity, duration, termination, context); 2) increasing priority given to gaming to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other life interests and daily activities; and 3) continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences. The behaviour pattern is of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning. The pattern of gaming behaviour may be continuous or episodic and recurrent. The gaming behaviour and other features are normally evident over a period of at least 12 months in order for a diagnosis to be assigned, although the required duration may be shortened if all diagnostic requirements are met and symptoms are severe.

Whether this provides clinical benefits over treating problematic gaming as a generic addiction disorder remains to be seen, but this move acknowledges the prominent psychological role that computing, and gaming in particular, can have in people's lives.

References

World Health Organization ICD-11 Beta Draft https://icd.who.int/dev11/l-m/en#/http%3a%2f%2fid.who.int%2ficd%2fentity%2f1448597234

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