“Gaming Disorder” and “Hazardous Gaming” are now listed as the latest mental health disorders, according to the World Health Organization. The new International Classification of Diseases was released with this update after nearly 3 decades. And the change is naturally making headlines.
The WHO is very specific before diagnosing an addiction, clarifying that a “gaming disorder is characterized by a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behaviour (‘digital gaming’ or ‘video-gaming’)” and must be manifest by three things:
- Impaired control over gaming: onset, frequency, intensity, duration, termination and context
- Increasing priority given to gaming to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other life interests and daily activities
- Continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences
They suggest that this negative pattern of gaming “may be evident over a period of at least 12 months” but if all criteria is met and symptoms are severe, there is no time limit before diagnosing.
According to a report by NBC News, WHO’s ICD-11 will be widely used outside the United States. Its reach influences the U.S., but we rely most heavily on the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) to define mental illness. The most recent edition of the DSM mentions gaming, but says we need more research to list it as a separate disorder. Speculation has already risen as to when this definition will change and follow the global diagnosis.
This latest classification is most notable for doctors, scientists and parents alike, who may ignore the reality that addiction to online gaming has become an epidemic, especially for youth.
In an interview with NBC News, Douglas Gentile of Iowa State University mentioned his latest research into the possibility of a gaming addiction and the consequences.
“We found that when kids became addicted, their depression increased, their anxiety increased, their social phobia increased and their grades decreased,” Gentile said.
Now popular games like Fortnite and Call of Duty are under attack for their addictive qualities, that some suggest are leading kids down a destructive path.
According to CNN, 125 million people are playing Fortnite, which means the game is constantly under scrutiny. The latest issue was a swastika that was accidentally designed into the game, found on the same day of the ICD-11 release. Users create their own playing fields and the swastika showed up in a design. The parent company, Epic Games, promised to remove the ability to create the swastika image within a week, according to The Verge.
The addictive qualities of games like Fortnite is possibly linked to its simple entry cost; it’s free. The game survives on in-app purchases after users find quick success and accomplishment in their initial moments in the game. And now Epic Games has announced Fortnite will join the competitive gaming world, promising a reward to the top player to the tune of $100 million dollars. Epic Games made $125 million dollars off Fortnite in the month of March alone, according to CNN.
Doctors recommend parents place constraints and time limits on any screen time and gaming activity. WebSafety created the Block Screen Time feature to help parents establish rules in a home that will lead to safe, recreational digital gaming.