Technology is highly addictive, video games in particular, so it is no wonder that the World Health Organization has added a new condition to its list of mental illnesses; gaming disorder.
Is Gaming Disorder Really a Psychological Condition?
Short answer; WHO classifies it as such, but not everyone agrees on this.
People have engaged in a lot of games through time; from board games to role playing games; and now, we have digital versions of all those entertainments we knew, and more.
Gaming now only means playing video games, but if you someone plays them to the point that it disrupts their life in some way, then the very act of picking up a controller and staying glued to the screen for five hours is classified as a disorder.
How Clinicians Identify Video Game Addicts
In diagnosing this condition, experts first look for escalated behaviors even when negative consequences of gaming too much begin to show.
The second identifier of gaming disorder is the tendency to favor gaming over all other activities; showing some sort of addiction or even dependency in gamers.
Lastly, the last criteria to identify and diagnose this condition involves looking for distress of disruptions in the personal, social, professional, or education life of the gamer.
The difference between your average gamer and an addict of the same is that the latter is more likely to have disrupted sleep patterns, limited physical activity, and even trouble maintaining a healthy diet.
The characteristics of the condition have been likened to those of drug users and gamblers. According to the criteria provided by WHO, the disorder can only be diagnosed after an exposure period of 12 months; not a few days of a few hours.
Digital Heroin, or Blameless Diversion
The fact that gaming disorder is now classified as a psychological condition means more experts will pay attention to its existence, but we still need to answer one fundamental question: is it really a mental condition or simply a form of entertainment like all the others?
According to other researchers, too much of anything is dangerous to the mental health of a person; whether it watching football, playing video games, or working hard. This is not to say that the condition is made up; there are gamers who genuinely need help detaching themselves from the screen and the virtual world of video games.
Nonetheless, the number of gamers worldwide who would qualify as patients of this condition is very low. This is a clinical condition, and a lot of people feel that it is too insignificant of a risk to even bother getting help for themselves or for addicted gamers around them.
What Do you Think?
I feel that WHO made the declaration to increase awareness for the condition and not to attack and scare video game players. It is a condition that can be treated with social support, psychological interventions, or family support. This is only the beginning of the debate on gaming and the kind of impact it has on our society and children.
What do you thing? Does gaming disorder qualify as a mental condition or is it to insignificant a problem to get this much attention?