The World Health Organisation (WHO) hasn’t updated their International Classification of Diseases (ICD) since 1992. But now, they will be releasing the 12th edition of the ICD, and it includes something they call “Gaming Disorder”. The draft document describes it as a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behaviour so severe that it takes “precedence over other life interests”.
According to the BBC, “It will suggest that abnormal gaming behaviour should be in evidence over a period of at least 12 months for a diagnosis to be assigned”. However, they added that they might shorten the period “if symptoms are severe”. They also listed symptoms of the disorder:
- impaired control over gaming (frequency, intensity, duration)
- increased priority given to gaming
- continuation or escalation of gaming despite negative consequences
Several experts, including Dr Richard Graham, lead technology addiction specialist at the Nightingale Hospital in London, welcomed the inclusion. “It is significant because it creates the opportunity for more specialised services. It puts it on the map as something to take seriously,” he said. However, he did warn that “It could lead to confused parents whose children are just enthusiastic gamers.”
He also suggested that if the activity is affecting basic things such as sleep, eating, socialising and education, then it counts as a symptom. He also said one question he asked himself was: “Is the addiction taking up neurological real-estate, dominating thinking and preoccupation?”
Many psychiatrists refer to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), the fifth edition of which was published in 2013. They listed that Gaming Disorder as a “condition for further study”, which means that they don’t officially recognise it.
A recent study from the University of Oxford suggested that, although children spend a lot of time on their screens, they generally managed to intertwine their digital pastimes with daily life. The research – looking at children aged eight to 18 – found that boys spent longer playing video games than girls.