The term, “video game addiction” has been tossed around a lot in recent years as more and more kids and adults are committing extreme amounts of time to gaming. Parents and health professionals alike have recognized signs of unhealthy use for years, but it’s only been recently that the diagnosis has been recognized by the medical community.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has listed “gaming disorder” as a new mental health condition in the 11th edition of its International Classification of Diseases.
Of course, any parent that struggles with pulling their kid away from video games could claim this disorder. So the World Health Organization has identified three major criteria a person must meet to be clinically diagnosed with gaming disorder.
Gaming Disorder is a Real Thing — Here’s What You Need to Know About it.
1. It Takes Precedence
It’s one thing if a person gets hooked on a game for a few days, and is able to go back to normal life and responsibilities after that. But when gaming takes precedence over other major activities and day-to-day responsibilities, that’s when it becomes a concern. For most people who are completely enthralled by their Fortnite group, it’s natural to have a connection to it, be excited to play it, and have a hard time pulling away from it. But gaming should never take precedence over living a well-rounded life. If a person completely stops doing other things they enjoy for the sake of gaming, they may meet these first criteria.
2. They Feel They Can’t Stop
Gaming for a period of time throughout the day and having a difficult time pulling away is fairly normal. If you think about it, it’s no different than turning off the Super Bowl before the 4th quarter begins. However, if a person’s gaming is replacing their usual activities, and they get to the point where it’s causing issues in several facets of their life, but they feel they are unable to stop playing, it’s a cause for concern. This goes beyond gaming taking precedence and instead shifts into what most would recognize as an addiction. Not only is it controlling your life, but it’s hindering relationships, causing problems and destruction, yet you physically can’t stop.
3. Gaming Causes Significant Distress in Several Areas of Life
When a person reaches the point where gaming has caused distress and impairments in both their relationships as well as their professional and school lives, it’s clear they’re stuck in an unhealthy pattern. Those who play video games for several hours on end, but are still able to get up, go to their job, and work at a typical capacity have not met this criterian [criterion]. There’s no denying that they could benefit from cutting back, but gaming has to have literally taken over every aspect of your life in order for a person to be diagnosed with gaming disorder.
According to WHO, a person must engage in this self-destructive behavior for a minimum of 12 months to be considered for diagnosis.
Like anything, it’s important that we participate in gaming in moderation. This entire article could be written on just about anything — sports, smoking, watching Netflix, exercise, etc. — and the warning signs would be the same.
WHO advises that every individual who participates in gaming should be aware that gaming disorder is, in fact, a real mental health condition. It’s important to be mindful of how much screen time you’re getting.