Excessive playing of video games is no longer just annoying to your parents or roommate. As of this year, it can be considered a mental disorder.
The World Health Organization is including “gaming disorder” in its latest International Classification of Diseases, used worldwide to diagnose health problems, provide health care and allocate resources.
But don’t pull yourself away from “Call of Duty” for a trip to the therapist just yet, cautioned a Cal State Fullerton professor who specializes in addiction to video games and social media.
“It’s good to have it on the books; it’s a positive step forward,” said Ofir Turel, professor of information systems and decision sciences. “We do need this increased recognition. But we need many more steps forward to make our society a better place.”
The gaming disorder news hit as Turel was fielding questions from reporters around the world about people who make New Year’s resolutions to cut back or quit their time on social media.
WHO decided to add gaming disorder to its list because in a number of countries, the problem has become a significant public health concern.
“There is increasing and well-documented evidence of clinical relevance of these conditions and increasing demand for treatment in different parts of the world,” said WHO spokesman Tarik Jašarević in Geneva.
The ICD-11 entry on gaming disorder includes only a clinical description and not prevention and treatment options.
WHO’s classification goes a step beyond the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which classifies mental disorders for billing and insurance purposes just in the United States. The latest edition doesn’t classify video game addiction as a formal disorder, but one that merits more research.
But even with WHO’s announcement, nothing will change overnight, Turel pointed out. There’s a time lag to recast all the medical billing and coding that allow health care providers to be paid by insurance companies for the care they provide.
“Once you classify this as a mental disorder, it’s very complicated,” he added. If an employee is caught playing video games at work and is fired for it, for example, the employee could claim a disability, which under the Americans with Disabilities Act…