The WHO Wants To Introduce An Official ‘Gaming Disorder’ But Experts Think This Is A Bad Idea

Following the announcement that the World Health Organization wants to introduce an official ‘Gaming Disorder’, 36 renowned and respected mental health experts, leading scientists and academics from research centres plan to oppose this disorder in an upcoming journal paper.

The World Health Organization define a ‘Gaming Disorder’ as the below:

“Gaming disorder is defined as a pattern of gaming behavior (“digital-gaming” or “video-gaming”) characterized by impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming over other activities to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities, and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.

For gaming disorder to be diagnosed, the behaviour pattern must be of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning and would normally have been evident for at least 12 months.”

There are 22 countries, whose gaming bodies all oppose this disorder, including Australia’s Interactive Games And Entertainment Association.

The experts’ paper (‘A Weak Scientific Basis for Gaming Disorder: Let us err on the side of caution’) will appear in the Journal of Behavioral Addictions. The researchers argue:

“Much confusion remains – even among authors supporting the diagnosis – regarding what, exactly, gaming disorder is.”

  • “We maintain that the quality of the existing evidence base is low.”
  • “Formalizing a disorder with the intention to improve research quality neglects the wider non-clinical societal context”
  • “Robust scientific standards are not (yet) employed.”
  • “Moral panic might be influencing formalization and might increase due to it.”
  • An addiction “should be clearly and unambiguously established before formalizing new disorders in disease classification system.”
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