Video game addiction listed as mental health disorder by WHO
Video gaming addiction has been officially declared a mental health disorder by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Following discussions that lasted over a year after being listed in the 11th International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11), the WHO delegates voted on Saturday to include uncontrolled digital gaming addiction as a disease.
The new revision would be enforced in 2022, requiring governments to include online and offline gaming addiction in their public health policies.
Video game addiction is placed under the category of "disorders due to substance use or addictive behaviors" along with alcoholism and gambling addiction. Video games addicts will soon have to undergo a specified treatment regimen.
The ICD-11 defines online and offline gaming disorder as a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behavior.
The addiction, according to the WHO, leads to impaired control over gaming (e.g., onset, frequency, intensity, duration, termination, context). It increases the priority given to gaming to the extent that video games take precedence over other life interests and daily activities. The pattern continues or escalates despite the occurrence of negative consequences.
The behavior pattern is of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.
With incidents like suicides and extreme behavior triggered by online game addiction, governments have been seriously considering banning or restricting them.
India mulled banning PlayerUnknown's Battlegrounds (PUBG) after a boy committed suicide in April when he was reprimanded for wasting time on the game during exam time.
China, the world's largest gaming market, enforced age limit, requiring players below 13 to get their parents' permission before accessing games.
The feature, added by tech giant Tencent earlier this year, was a step towards controlling game addiction among children, the company had said.
The new restriction will be gradually piloted for the Chinese versions of its two popular games "Honor of Kings" and "PUBG Mobile" in 12 Chinese cities including Beijing, Chengdu and Changchun, Xinhua has reported.
Nepal and Iraq have also clamped down on video gaming.
Recently, U.S. Republican senator Josh Hawley proposed the "Protecting Children from Abusive Games Bill" to control gaming addiction among children.
(Cover Image: Attendees play video games at E3, the world's largest video game industry convention in Los Angeles, California, U.S. June 12, 2018. /VCG Photo)