World Health Organization Identifies Compulsive Video Game Playing A Mental Health Problem
Experts estimate that more than 3 million Americans between the ages of eight and 18 could be suffering from video game dependency. Over the past decade, several tragic stories of addicted gamers made international headlines.
Seungseob Lee, in South Korea, played StarCraft for more than 50 consecutive hours at an internet café before suffering a fatal heart attack.
In China, a man named Xu Yan died after playing an online game persistently for two weeks.
And in America, a woman named Rebecca Christie was sentenced to 25 years in prison after she allowed her daughter to starve to death while Christie was preoccupied with World of Warcraft.
To put that comparison in perspective, there could be about 1 million more diagnosable dependent gamers in America than coke addicts.
Is Video Game Addiction Really A Mental Health Problem?
The WHO’s proposed definition of gaming disorder describes it as “a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behavior” that takes over someone’s life—to the point they can hardly think of or do anything else—and causes negative social consequences.
Characteristics Of Gaming Disorder
1. The gaming behavior takes precedence over other activities to the extent that other activities are taken to the periphery
2. Even when the negative consequences occur, this behavior continues or escalates.” A diagnosis of gaming disorder, then, means that a “persistent or recurrent” behavior pattern of “sufficient severity”
3. The condition leads to significant distress and impairment in personal, family, social, educational or occupational functioning. The impact is real, and may include “disturbed sleep patterns, like diet problems, like a deficiency in the physical activity.”
However, psychologists and psychiatrists disagree and do not treat gaming disorder to be a new mental health problem.