Internet Gaming Disorders
Though gaming is a healthy hobby for most people, in some cases it can and does become a dangerous obsession. So much so, that as of 2018 the World Health Organization (WHO) now considers Internet gaming addiction to be a mental disorder.
In order to be considered suffering from a mental disorder, gamers must play a minimum of 12 hours per day for a period of no less than one calendar year. This fits the WHO approved definition of a gaming mental disorder. Impaired control is the biggest symptom of this disorder but others include impaired relationships with friends and family members.
Facilities equipped to redeem gaming addicts were previously not reimbursed for the services they offered, but that has changed with the declaration that this addiction is a disorder. This does point to a shift in the industry that will now make it easier for gaming addicts to seek help.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) has proposed that Internet Gaming Disorder should be a category of disease as declared by the American Psychiatric Association.
American Psychiatric Association vs WHO
There has been some controversy surrounding this decision as the American Psychiatric Association is arguing that WHO’s definition of Internet Gaming Disorders is too ambiguous. The DSM and WHO have very different ideas about what constitutes this type of illness. Those with the DSM feel that it is a natural progression for substance abusers, yet WHO wholeheartedly disagrees.
If anything, this discrepancy in definitions has led to increased discussion about the topic and has shed light on it that may not have been shed otherwise. All of this talk is likely to lead to not only an expanded definition but also a variety of treatment methods. When it comes to this topic of conversation the focus has been what the differences are between gamers who become addicted and those who don’t.
Many at the DSM have stated that WHO would have benefitted from speaking with gamers and gaming software companies prior to defining what an addiction to gaming actually is. The popular opinion is that a gaming addiction is not a disorder in it itself, simply that it resulted from some other kind of mental disorder.
There have been arguments made that gaming disorders are not as stable as other types. What this means is that one gamer, tested for addiction at six month intervals might show an addiction in the first test but not the second. This has led to speculation that attempting to treat someone with a gaming addiction may actually do more harm than good.
In the case of children suffering from anxiety and depression while addicted to gaming, a study was done that showed when the gaming addiction was cured the anxiety and depression went away also. The same study showed that of those who consider themselves gamers, no more than 1% had an addiction.
Only time will tell how gaming addictions are thought of and treated in the future. Concerted efforts are being made to get the problem under control.