The UN health agency said that classifying "Gaming Disorder" as a separate condition will "serve a public health goal for countries to be better prepared to identify this issue". That could stem from time sunk into gaming, or neglecting other priorities, or from risky behaviors associated with it (like, say, forgetting to eat or sleep).
Al Jazeera's Paul Chaderjian reports.
"We believe that understanding this population and the nature and severity of the problems they experience should be a focus area for future research", reads the abstract of a paper titled 'A weak scientific basis for gaming disorder: Let us err on the side of caution.' "However, moving from research construct to formal disorder requires a much stronger evidence base than we now have".
Mental health experts have long spoken out against the harmful effects of prolonged gaming, but this is the first time that it is being officially recognised as a mental health disorder by the global body.
World Health Organization said this situation is severe enough to result in "significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning".
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A 2015 Ontario Student Drug Use and Mental Health Survey showed that 13% of students between grades seven and 12 reported symptoms of a problem with video games.
His advice to people who know someone dealing with a video game addiction? In the United Kingdom, the country's National Health Service has now started offering free treatment for those experiencing the disorder, though exactly what treatment would be most effective is still under discussion. The WHO warned that those suffering from "gaming disorder" can suffer impacts to their family, social, educational, and occupational lives. "There is not objective evidence to define and diagnose overuse and that may result in misdiagnosis".
37 percent of gamers say they have made at least half a dozen good friends through gaming.
The new ICD-11 is set to be presented to the World Health Assembly for adoption by the member states in the month of May 2019 and is scheduled to come in effect on January 1, 2022.
The ICD forms a basis for the WHO and other experts to see and respond to trends in health, and is also used by health insurers whose reimbursements depend on the classifications.
The new ICD-11 is also able to better capture data regarding safety in healthcare, which means that unnecessary events that may harm health - such as unsafe workflows in hospitals - can be identified and reduced, the statement said.