KIDS addicted to video games like Fortnite will now have the condition recognised as an official mental disorder.
Sufferers could get NHS treatment after the World Health Organisation added gaming addiction to its International Classification of Diseases.
Getty – Contributor Gaming addiction is officially a mental disorder
Around 2.2billion people worldwide play video games, and scientists reckon as many as 4% are addicted.
That means nearly 90million gamers have an unhealthy relationship with their hobby, with men aged 18-24 the most at risk.
The WHO’s decision to officially recognise video game addiction as an illness was announced last summer, but was officially approved at the 72nd World Health Assembly on Saturday.
The disorder is described as: “A pattern of behaviour characterised 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”.
Getty – Contributor Nearly 90million gamers worldwide are addicted to their hobby
According to the WHO: “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.”
One 15-year-old’s mother reportedly campaigned for the change after her son had to take a year off school due to his compulsive gaming habit.
Nearly 10% of children aged 8-18 shows signs of videogame addiction, which is only predicted to grow as more children begin playing.
Experts have warned that some games are so addictive, kids stay up through the night to play them and even turn violent when their parents intervene.
The illness was met with opposition by video games trade bodies, including the ESA, ISFE and UKIE.
They argue there’s not enough research to prove that gaming addiction is a mental disorder in and of itself, rather than a symptom of a wider mental health condition.
Alamy Addicts could receive treatment through the NHS for the problem
Smartphones make it easier than ever to play a game no matter where you are, and it’s not hard to see why people become addicted.
“It’s difficult to leave something that makes you feel so good,” said Adam Cox, founder of the London-based hypnotherapy group Addiction Experts.
“We know that games trigger the release of dopamine which can become habit-forming, especially when the stimulus is so readily available to us all the time.”
What is video game addiction?Here’s everything you need to know…
Around 2.2billion people worldwide play video games
Scientists believe 1 in 25 are addicted
That means there are nearly 90million video game addicts worldwide
Playing games releases dopamine in your brain, which makes you want to come back for more
In this sense, playing games gives us a similar thrill to gambling
Symptoms include a loss of interest in your social life, feelings of restlessness or irritability when unable to play, and lying to friends and family about time spent playing
Men aged 18-24 are most at risk
Mr Cox encourages parents to check in with their children to manage how much time they spend playing.
Addiction to video games is one of several new disorders sparked by our obsession with tech.
Smartphone and social media addiction are also a concern among doctors, though neither are officially recognised as an illness yet.
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In other gaming news, Parliament is to investigate if game and phone “addiction” are harming Brits.
This gamer rehab centre sees obsessed Brits pay £5,000 for the same therapy as sex addicts and heroin users.
Addicts have revealed how the obsession destroyed their lives via cautionary tales posted on the r/StopGaming subreddit.
Do you have a problem with video games? Let us know in the comments!
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