‘Gaming disorder’ now considered a mental health condition

Jun 19, 2018, 4:25 AM | Updated: Jun 21, 2018, 1:53 pm
(Pexels photo)...
(Pexels photo)
(Pexels photo)

PHOENIX — Compulsive video gaming is now considered a mental health condition by the World Health Organization.

The U.N. health organization announced Monday it added “gaming disorder” to its list of recognized health conditions.

That doesn’t surprise Daniel Kaufmann, a professor at Grand Canyon University who has done research on video game addiction and has offered treatment for it.

“Research has been done on how playing video games at high rates of frequency can interrupt other activities in life and can become problematic for a person’s lifestyle,” he said. “We’ve seen that consistently, and we’ve seen it in a way that lines up with other behavioral forms of addiction.”

Kaufmann said a video game addiction can start to form when a person “abandons a lot of different life areas that most of us would agree lead to higher levels of fulfillment and happiness.” That includes spending more time playing video games and less time with friends and family or at work and school.

Kaufmann said it can affect people of all ages, not just teenagers, and the consequences can be severe.

“People that tend to have a problem with scratching their video game habits are going to suffer in life areas like work or relationships, or friendships or school,” he said. “This can lead to different problems for different age ranges and different life situations.”

The World Health Organization said a gaming disorder is “characterized by a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behavior.”

It added that a gaming disorder can be manifested if a person prioritizes gaming “to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other life interests and daily activities” and it continues to escalate “despite the occurrence of negative consequences.”

Kaufmann said having the World Health Organization recognize compulsive video gaming as a mental health condition could lead to more help becoming available for people dealing with this issue. He said there are already a number of counselors and support groups that offer help.

His advice to people who know someone dealing with a video game addiction? Have a conversation.

“You want to actually figure out what is missing in all these life areas that maybe the person is avoiding, and when they play it’s a way to escape that and not feel stressed out or anxious or worried,” Kaufmann said.

Also, Kaufmann said he advises people to be understanding and avoid having arguments.

“There’s a wise and thoughtful way to approach this problem like it is a legitimate issue, because it definitely is,” he said.

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‘Gaming disorder’ now considered a mental health condition