Video game disorder: a new mental disorder according to the WHO

Our behavior evolves as our culture and society evolves, so it is not absurd to think that as a result of these changes new related psychological disorders or alterations will emerge. This is the case with video game disorder.

A few decades ago, it was almost impossible to think that a video game could lead to a psychological disorder.. However, the growing proliferation of video games and their accessibility has led the WHO itself to question whether this could pose a problem for the mental and physical health of people.

    Is Video Game Disorder A New Hobby?

    Last December, the WHO unveiled a new psychological condition closely linked to the present day: video game disorder.

    The real existence of this disease, which will be included next July in the new edition of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11), has been widely debated in research circles; being this one of the first measures taken by the organization when considering the possibility that an abuse of video games could generate addictions or psychological alterations.

    After years of research, while the WHO has been working with expert groups in this area since 2005, the body found it necessary to comment on this because addiction or problems with video game abuse they are more and more recurrent in psychological consultations.

    The WHO has reported that while it is still too early to reveal fully reliable epidemiological data, the number of people affected by the disorder is estimated to range from 1 to 10% of the general adult population.

    It has also been clarified that although this is a disorder much more closely related to the younger population, it is not an exclusive criterion, so at the moment it will also be considered by all brackets. of age.

    Although the WHO itself admits that most of the population considered to be a regular player does not suffer from any type of disorder, It is recommended that such people control the time they devote to this hobby, as excessive use of these games can lead to ill effects such as giving up on daily obligations and activities or impairing health. physical and psychological.

    Likewise, professionals in different health fields are also encouraged to observe and recognize the possible consequences that the abuse of video games can have on the health of children and adults.

      What features does it have?

      Because this is a very recent disorder that is still under investigation by WHO officials, it has been revealed that, at this time, the video game disorder will not have its own column in the next edition of CIE-11, but this one. will be located in the diagnostics related to digital games.

      Therefore, although no definitive definition has been established, a number of characteristics and behavioral patterns specific to this disorder have been described.

      Video game disorder is defined as a pattern of behavior characterized by a lack of control over the urge to gamble, Give more and more priority to the time spent playing video games over other activities and interests that were previously important to the person.

      This behavior is defined as continuous or recurring, having observed an escalation in the time spent on video games despite the negative consequences thereof. In other words, the person continues to play despite the harmful effects it causes.

      In order not to overdiagnose this disorder, the WHO warns that, to be considered as such, this pattern of behavior should significantly interfere with other areas of a person’s life. Contexts such as work, education, family or social must therefore be strongly affected.

        What will be the diagnostic criteria?

        In order for abnormal behavior related to the use and abuse of video games to be considered a disorder or illness, the following three criteria must be met.

        Likewise, so that the diagnosis of video game disorder can be made, the problem must be obvious, at least, over a period of 12 months. However, the WHO warns that in very severe cases the time frame may be much shorter.

        The three criteria to consider when diagnosing a video game disorder are as follows.

        1. Lack of control

        The first of the three criteria is that which states that the person must be unable to exercise voluntary control over their behavior towards video games. This symptom also includes the inability to limit and control the time spent playing.

        2. Priority to play

        During the period in which the disorder develops, the person increases the level of priority given to gambling. the time invested in playing before the rest of the bonds of the person.

        3. Behavior when climbing

        Finally, the third criterion stipulates that the person affected by the video game disorder must experience an extent in his behavior, which will continue to occur despite the harmful effects it has on his state of health. Regardless of the damage involved, the patient will continue his behavior or even increase it.

        Has a treatment been defined?

        Despite everything described above, the next volume of ICD-11 in which this disorder is already found it does not establish any prevention or treatment guidelinesIt therefore does not offer any type of recommendation for relatives, professionals or institutions.

        However, the WHO emphasizes that the introduction of this disorder is the first step for organizations and professionals to consider when designating resources and means for the prevention, treatment and rehabilitation of this disorder.

        Criticism of its introduction to ICD-11

        As expected, the WHO decision that I did not pronounce against the critics from some scholars who consider the generation of a specific label for this pattern of behavior to be excessive.

        Some industries claim that if it is a behavior to be taken into account, its inclusion in a diagnostic manual can confuse professionals and relatives of people who are only video game enthusiasts.

        Another example is a study conducted at the University of Oxford in which it was found that although children spend a lot of time playing video games, in most cases they themselves are able to combine that. Hobby with the rest of their activities or obligations without any aspect of their life was injured.

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