The World Health Organization (WHO) has officially described addiction to video games as a Mental Health Disorder.
In its International Classification of Diseases (ICD), the addiction to digital and video games is described as “a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behavior” that becomes so extensive it “takes precedence over other life interests”.
The WHO’s expert on mental health and substance abuse, Shekhar Saxena, said some worst cases occur when a gamer plays for up to 20 hours a day, forgoing sleep, meals, work or school and other daily activities.
The statement issued by WHO went thus:
“A pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behavior (‘digital gaming’ or ‘video-gaming’), which may be online (i.e., over the internet) or offline, manifested by:
Impaired control over gaming (e.g., onset, frequency, intensity, duration, termination, context);
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.
The behavior pattern is of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning.”