Video gaming can now officially become an addiction, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
The WHO published its 11th edition of its “International Classification of Diseases,” to which they added “gaming disorder.” To qualify as gaming disorder, the WHO states that a person must meet 3 major criteria:
- Gaming takes precedence over other activities, so much that a person often stops doing other things (like socializing or hobbies).
- A person continues gaming even when it causes issues in their life or they feel that they can’t stop.
- Gaming causes significant distress and impairments in a person’s relationships with others, as well as their work or school life.
Sound familiar? These are the same behaviors you’ll find in drug and alcohol addicts.
Is Gaming Disorder an Addiction?
We’ve seen clients with dual disorders – addiction to a drug, and addiction to gaming. In such cases the gaming didn’t provide an escape or counter to the drug addiction. The gaming was another trap that consumed what remained of the person’s life.
As such, this WHO announcement comes as no big surprise to the Support Systems Homes team. Our facilities are equipped to handle addiction in all its forms—including video gaming.
Occasional Gaming is Not a Disorder
When it comes to video gaming, it’s important not to over-diagnose. If the person ‘gets into’ a game for a few days, but goes back to normal routine afterward? That’s not gaming disorder. It’s just enjoyment…which can be quite healthy!
For a person to receive a gaming disorder diagnosis, according to the WHO, they must engage in the obsession-level behavior for at least 12 months.
Finally, an important note: This article references parents of children who may have gaming disorder. While children are especially vulnerable to a gaming addiction, everyone who games is at risk. Most children and adults will never develop gaming addiction…but it pays for each of us to keep an eye on our loved ones.