WHO: Addiction to gaming to be recognized as a disease

Weakening personal relationships and loss of time control are signs of the addiction

WHO: Addiction to gaming to be recognized as a disease

The World Health Organization (WHO), will recognize addiction to video games as a mental disease, due to the properties that make players lose control of time and frequency when performing the activity. These same symptoms that are shown in other kind of addictions.
The announcement made in Geneva by the WHO spokesman, Tarik Jasarevic, will be added to the eleventh list of the International Classification of Diseases (CIM), a compendium that since 1992 has not been updated and which will be officially published in June. According to data from this first draft that has been released, the so called 'gaming disorder', will be considered addiction when due to a "persistent and recurrent" behavior in the use of video games, social and family relationships seem to be declining.
The manifestation of this disease will be evaluated through three signs, the ones that are also used to identify other addictions:
•    Lack of control over the frequency and intensity of the activity
•    Priority given to the activity compared to other kind of interactions
•    Continuation and escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences
By identifying these traits, specialists will evaluate the increase of this behavior within 12 months to diagnose the pathology. According to the severity of the symptoms, the 'gaming disorder' could be determined in less time. As Jasarevic explained in the statement, the gaming disorder would then be "a behavior related to online and off-line video games, characterized by a loss of selfcontrol, a growing priority in relation with other activities, all the way to the point that it predominates over other centers of interest".
For some experts the inclusion of video game addiction to the list of diseases of the WHO corresponds to an increase in the number of cases, as well as the time that young people spend consuming content on screens. This practice has also been related to the growth in suicidal thoughts and depression within young population in the world, since a recent research published by the Clinical Phsycological Science Journal showed that the biggest change in life of younger population between 2010 and 2015, has been the replacement of educational or recreational activities by television screens, tablets or smartphones.
Under this premise, research results showed that 48% of minors using technological devices for five or more hours a day, at some point have had suicidal thoughts. This figure was reduced to 28%, when time in front of screens did not exceed an hour per day.
Denoting the addiction to video games as a disease means learning to differentiate 'addiction against excessive use' of certain activity. As explained on El Mundo by Celso Arango, Head of the Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Service of the Gregorio Marañón University Hospital in Madrid, "when a person has an addiction, he loses control, his whole life spins around what he is addicted to. The affected person becomes a slave who stops doing his usual activities and suffers deeply because, although he would like to abandon that behavior, the reality is that he cannot do it".


Latin American Post | Krishna Jaramillo

Copy edited by Laura Rocha Rueda

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