What slowly started as something that entertains, delights and helps us spend time relaxing our minds is now causing controversy, chaos and unrest among people reaching such heights that it is now classified as a disorder by WHO. Guessed it right? I am discussing about none other than gaming disorder.
According to WHO, gaming disorder is a pattern of gaming behavior (includes both, digital and video games) characterized by impaired control over gaming, increased priority given to gaming other activities to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities, and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.
It is illogical to define every person playing games on his/her mobile (for instance, during a long wait at the airport, when friends meet and decide to play for fun sometimes or when children pick a mobile to spend time after homework) as an addict as every addiction requires the need to fulfill certain conditions. Three-most important features to consider before branding someone with gaming disorder includes the following diagnosis:
Disorder Highly Prevalent Among Kids
We see more children with their personal tablets or mobiles than books or games nowadays. Gone are the days when moms fed kids narrating Panchatantra tales showing the moon. Parents nowadays feed kids showing stories on the Internet or by letting them play their favorite games. Even during social gatherings or every day play sessions in our communities, children discuss about the latest Sony PS games or their latest discovery online. So much is their use that many children start lacking basic social skills, miss out on language fluency and often battle against depression that they have 100% possibility of being diagnosed with autism sooner or later in life. Autism can devastate a child’s life altogether and wreck the life of people surrounding the child too! Get your facts on autism clear from www.firsteatright.com and you will surely try to avoid it as much as possible.
The Blue whale challenge created by a youngster in the year 2017 was one of the most deceptive games that lured players to commit suicide finally. Many youngsters killed themselves playing this game and the mastermind behind this concept was jailed finally. Different countries are handling such damaging consequences in different ways. South Korean government bans access to online gaming between midnight and 6am to children under the age of 16. Japan has a smart app reminding people to get off their gadgets when players are involved in playing games above a fixed time every month and China has individual gaming companies posing time restrictions for small children to access their games. A study even shows that boys spend longer times playing games compared to girls.
People’s Reaction Worldwide
The addition of gaming as a disorder has not gone well with many psychologists, psychiatrists and some health experts who feel that addiction to games is not as worthy as including it in the ICD (International Classification of Diseases). Some feel the current evidence base to be insufficient to classify gaming as a disorder while some other gaming-related groups are highly concerned about WHO’s decision to include gaming as an addiction despite strong resistance from the medical and scientific community.
ICD exists as the bible for diseases, disorders, injuries and health conditions used by doctors/medical practitioners to diagnose diseases and other conditions as well as by researchers to count deaths, diseases, injuries and symptoms. Adding gaming disorder as a part of ICD creates awareness to the entire world population-to the general public and the physicians’ community-as this opens the gates to learn how to diagnose and treat the disorder. We are stressing about physicians here because, although research on gaming addiction has been happening for almost three decades, doctors were not clear until now how to define the disorder, its symptoms, prevalence ratio and whether it is an independent disorder or co-exists with some other disorder.
Some countries have already classified it as a major public health issue and many countries have established addiction clinics to treat the condition (similar to rehab centers for alcohol addiction). Still, people don’t find it much effective despite rehab centers, treatment programs and solutions offered because mental health professionals are still unsure how to treat the disorder and there are not many evidences denoting the success ratio of these treatments and options. Including gaming disorder as a part of the forthcoming ICD is sure to resolve many of these issues and shed light on treatment options too.
Only time can tell how this inclusion of gaming as an addiction goes well with the society. Lets remain tight-lipped about our opinions until then and ensure than neither us nor our family members become addicted to gaming meanwhile.
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Dietitian & Nutritionist Dr. Nafeesa Imteyaz.