Compulsive video game-playing could be mental health problem


Dr. Shekhar Saxena, director of WHO's department for mental health and substance abuse, told the news outlet that it based its conclusion on scientific evidence and that it indicates "the need and the demand for treatment in many parts of the world".

"What we're talking about - and what the World Health Organisation is talking about - is the people who can no longer stop, no longer control their use".

The first one is when gaming behavior takes precedence over other activities.

Gamers could can spend hours in front of the screen without becoming addicted, he said.

Symptomatic behaviour must continue for at least a year before it is considered dangerously unhealthy, according to the new classification.

In spite of what may appear to be universal symptoms, however, the organization is quick to note that the prevalence of gaming disorder, as defined by the WHO, is actually "very low".

Almost 40 percent of those sales are in east Asia, especially China and South Korea.

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Some experts have warned that video games can be so addictive that children often get up during the night to play them.

"The WHO process lacks transparency, is deeply flawed, and lacks scientific support", Michael Gallagher, president and CEO of the Entertainment Software Association, said in a statement in March.

In a study to be published in the Journal of Behavioral Addictions, a group of 36 researchers said there was insufficent evidence to warrant the new category.

He guessed that the percentage of video game players with a compulsive problem was likely to be extremely small - much less than 1 percent - and that many such people would likely have other underlying problems, like depression, bipolar disorder or autism.

"Given the gravity of diagnostic classification and its wider social impact, we urge our colleagues at the World Health Organization to err on the side of caution for now and postpone the formalisation", they wrote in a study reviewing academic literature.

"And let me emphasise that this is a clinical condition, and clinical diagnosis can be made only by health professionals which are properly trained to do that", he noted.

The new ICD-11 is also able to better capture data regarding safety in healthcare, which means that unnecessary events that may harm health - such as unsafe workflows in hospitals - can be identified and reduced, the statement said.