The World Health Organization Now Considers ‘Gaming Disorder’ a Unique Mental Health Condition

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Source: Time

By Jamey Keaten and Maria Cheng / AP

(GENEVA) — Obsessive video gamers know how to anticipate dangers in virtual worlds. The World Health Organization says they now should be on guard for a danger in the real world: spending too much time playing.

In its latest revision to a disease classification manual, the U.N. health agency said Monday that compulsively playing video games now qualifies as a mental health condition. The statement confirmed the fears of some parents but led critics to warn that it may risk stigmatizing too many young video players.

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CHIBA, JAPAN – SEPTEMBER 21: A visitor wearing a PlayStation VR headset plays a video game in the Sony Interactive Entertainment Inc. booth during the Tokyo Game Show 2017 at Makuhari Messe on September 21, 2017 in Chiba, Japan. The annual game show, which features games from 345 exhibitors for various platforms from game consoles to mobile phones, takes place September 21-24 and will feature eSports. (Photo by Tomohiro Ohsumi/Getty Images)

WHO said classifying “gaming disorder” as a separate addiction will help governments, families and health care workers be more vigilant and prepared to identify the risks. The agency and other experts were quick to note that cases of the condition are still very rare, with no more than up to 3 percent of all gamers believed to be affected.

Dr. Shekhar Saxena, director of WHO’s department for mental health and substance abuse, said the agency accepted the proposal that gaming disorder should be listed as a new problem based on scientific evidence, in addition to “the need and the demand for treatment in many parts of the world.”

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