Gaming Disorder: A Mental Problem?

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Gaming Disorder: A Mental Problem?

Online gaming addiction is the fastest-growing addiction in the 21st century and children are the ones who are greatly affected by it according to one Japanese doctor who helps children to cope up against gaming addiction / Photo by: Natalia Ruedisueli via Shutterstock


When can you say that you have come to the point of too much gaming? This is a question asked by Dr. Susumu Higuchi, Japan's addiction expert, who treats people whose lives were ruined by playing too much video games. 

Online gaming addiction is the fastest-growing addiction in the 21st century and children are the ones who are greatly affected by it. They are the first victims to the psychoactive effects, according to Higuchi. He added that this addiction is not just happening in Japan, but all over the world. Gaming addiction is becoming worse and this must not be ignored.


International Classification of Diseases

World Health Organization will present the 11th edition of the International Classification of Diseases. Included there is gaming disorder as a new diagnosis. The member states at the World Health Assembly will adopt this and when this is approved, it will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2022.

According to the WHO, the following are symptoms of gaming disorder: impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other life interests and daily activities, and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.

This is naturally met with criticism from the gamers but Higuchi said that once gaming disorder is qualified as a mental illness, this should be taken seriously.

Gaming disorder was now included on the list of diagnosis by the World Health Organization that will present in their 11th edition of the International Classification of Diseases / Photo by: Yann Forget via Wikimedia Commons


In South Korea, the addiction to the internet is being taken seriously because it has been suggested that about 1 in 10 teens is an internet addict. The South Korean government has allotted $10 million every year to fund the treatment centers and add prevention programs. 

“With any kind of addiction, there’s bound to be opposition from corporate giants. There’s the alcohol industry, the gambling industry, and now the gaming industry,” Higuchi said. He said that he can prove that gaming disorder is a diagnosable condition. However, with everything else falling under internet addiction, there is a lack of evidence. 

Even though adults may be hooked to gadgets, that does not mean it is already gaming dependency. But if you become cranky because you haven't played a game or connected to the internet, there may be a problem.

Difficulty Researching Gaming Disorder

Psychologist and author Dr. Pete Etchells said that the games industry must step up in understanding gaming addiction. He said, "One thing that psychologists are starting to do more and more of is something known as pre-registration where you say, 'I'm going to do this study, and this is how I'm going to analyze my data' before you actually collect the data. You make that publicly available, so people know when you collect your data that's what you were always going to do with it, rather than doing the analysis behind closed doors and do it five million ways to find the answer that you or your investors want.

"It's not a perfect solution, it's not going to completely inoculate you against conflicts of interest, but there are these things that you can do to make research more open and transparent that I think would be a really important first step."


How to Help a Game Addict

Higuchi said that awareness is very important. Making game addicts realize that they cannot overpower their addiction is the first step in recovering from an addiction. Those who do not see a problem may have a hard time admitting that they are gaming addicts. 

Confiscating gaming consoles may not be a good strategy. So is disabling Wi-Fi or hiding gadgets. A more effective strategy is to engage the game addicts outside of their digital world. Below are some things that can divert their attention from playing too many games.

Outdoor activities
If a child is not doing household chores or even going out like usual, encourage them to do so. It is the parent's responsibilities to see to it that kids have a balance of activities. 

Encourage your child to go into outdoor activities if you cannot persuade them to do household chores / Photo by: Monkey Business Images via Shutterstock


Set a good example
As parents, you must be a good example for your kids. This means limiting your tech use as well. Include your kid and do something real instead of staring at phones and other gadgets. 

Don't let TV/gadgets babysit
Letting babies and children play with gadgets is not a good trend to set. Parents should not let the gadgets take over babysitting just because it is more convenient.

Provide guidance
It is important that adults know how to listen to students. Sometimes, their attitude can be a sign that they need help. Teachers must learn how to guide the students properly. 

If things start to go out of hand and you feel that you can no longer manage it, seek professional help right away. You do not have to treat the situation as one of mental disorder. This form of addiction can still be reversed but it is important that the counselor actually considers gaming addiction to be a valid disorder.