Gaming culture has gone to a new level in recent years thanks to eSports. Still, doctors are urging parents to monitor their children's "screen time" as it could have lasting effects on their mental health.
The World Health Organization (WHO) created an International Classification of Diseases (ICD) to categorize and define health disorders. The ICD is updated habitually and features over 50,000 different disorders, injuries, and causes of death. Over the weekend, WHO officially added a form of video game addition called "Gaming Disorder" to the ICD as a mental health disease.
Video game addiction consists of "a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behavior [that] takes precedence over other life interests," according to WHO. Shekhar Saxena, a WHO substance mental health and abuse expert, explains that the organization conducted global research on the phenomenon before putting video game addiction in the ICD. The organization found that the worst cases involved gamers playing up to 20 hours a day, neglecting food, sleep, and other daily activities. While this is alarming, Saxena insists that "this is an occasional or transitory behavior" and only a small portion of gamers develop this problem.
In response to the ICD's induction of "Gaming Disorder", a gaming lobbying group called the Video Games Coalition went on record stating that the products are "enjoyed safely and sensibly by more than 2 billion people worldwide" and have "educational, therapeutic, and recreational value" when used properly. They've also urged WHO to reevaluate their decision.
The concept of video game addiction is not new or specific to the WHO. The American Psychiatric Association listed the addiction as a topic of discussion while the American Medical Association added "Video Game Addiction" to their list of disorders in 2007.