Health news update: Addicted video gamers can show withdrawal symptoms
NORTH CAROLINA (WECT) - One of the largest global health organizations has officially recognized the potential harms of video games.
This week, "gaming disorder" has been added to the World Health Organization's (WHO) latest version of its International Classification of Diseases (ICD 11), which is a catalog of about 55,000 different injuries, diseases, and causes of death.
Gaming disorder is listed next to gambling disorder under the larger category of substance use or addictive behavior disorders.
"We have been trying to understand video game addiction for probably two decades. Since the first Atari came out, people have invested hours playing video games," said Joseph Rengifo, a therapist based in Wilmington.
In order for video gaming to cross from normal hobby into the problem range, the person must have lost some control over the gaming habit, give priority to gaming over other daily activities, and increase or continue gaming time despite negative consequences.
"The behaviour pattern is of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning," reads the ICD description of gaming disorder.
Rengifo said people with gaming disorder can show symptoms of withdrawal just like addictions to drugs.
"People can withdraw from video game addiction. You use 10 hours every day of a video game, and then you have to go to school for the week, and people are going to withdraw," said Rengifo. "They are going to show signs that they are thinking about going back to it. They are not thinking about the here and now."
A separate disorder in the WHO classification is called "hazardous gaming," which is in the same category as lack of exercise and problems with oral hygiene.
"Hazardous gaming refers to a pattern of gaming, either online or offline, that appreciably increases the risk of harmful physical or mental health consequences to the individual or to others around this individual," reads the ICD description.
Rengifo cautions that not all video games are associated with an addiction, adding that video games are sometimes used in educational contexts.
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