The World Health Organization has officially recognized addiction to video games as a mental health disorder. The news came Monday this week through an official announcement on their website. According to the WHO’s latest reference bible, to be diagnosed with the disorder, an individual’s relationship with digital and video games needs to be “a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behavior” to the point where it may”takes precedence over other life interests”.
The reference bible is the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11). The publication serves as a “foundation for identifying health trends and statistics worldwide, and contains around 55 000 unique codes for injuries, diseases and causes of death”, according to WHO. It is used by health professionals across the world.
This recognition of the detrimental effects extensive video game usage can have on an individual’s health is a first for the medical community. The update comes in time to adapt to the modern world and the new, developing technologies life for many is now characterized by. The current revision of the ICD, ICD-10, dates back to the early 1990s. ICD-11’s addition of gaming disorder is just one of many changes in the revision that reflect changes in social and medical attitudes.
Besides the addition of new diseases, ICD-11 will also be released as an entirely electronic publication. This is in an effort to make it more accessible to health practitioners worldwide.
ICD-11 will be presented for adoption by Member States at the World Health Assembly in May 2019. It will come into effect by January 1, 2022.