Video game addiction is a mental illness, says WHO
According to the World Health Organization, Video game addiction is a mental illness. This was confirmed this Friday when the agency published the updated list of pathologies, as agreed at the Assembly held in May last year.
This is the first examination carried out after 30 years; Making the problem visible can be essential: determining specific criteria will make it possible to more accurately assess the extent of the situation. In the world, there are three billion players and in Argentina there are 19 million, even if it is a minority that develops problematic uses.
The International Classification of Diseases used by the WHO incorporates the analysis of 1.6 million clinical cases, which belong to 90 countries. It is used by health professionals to standardize their work and obtain the parameters necessary for establishing diagnoses. By its inclusion, it is also sought improve available statistics on video game addiction in the planet.
The significance of the WHO decision
“It is good to include the problematic behavior of video games because it is an undeniable clinical reality. It is important that the phenomenon be typed, regulated and named. For social projects and medical services, it is essential because begins to be recognized as a previously invisible problem“, underlines the psychiatrist Frederic Pavlovsky.
Otherwise, if it is not included as a disorder, patients do not have access to treatment. “We can think the same thing for alcohol, nicotine, online gambling, or for the unbridled consumption of social networks. What is perceived, in all cases of problematic consumption, is a deterioration of social life“, adds the specialist.
According to data compiled by Newzoo, a consulting firm specializing in the field, there are 3 billion players around the planet; This figure is equivalent to 40% of the world’s population. This number was reached after the pandemic, when the demand for indoor entertainment increased by 5.3%.
Robert Jacobthe head of the WHO who was responsible for preparing the list, explained that some of the warning signs of addiction are related to “not being able to stop playing on the Internet or with a console, neglecting friendships or work because of this, for periods of more than a year”. What is lost, in particular, is the control of the game: an addiction that does not distinguish between ages and causes undesirable effects on performance school, professional and private.
The situation in Argentina
According to data provided by the Association of Electronic and Electromechanical Sports of Argentina, it is estimated that there are more than 19 million players in the country; something like 40 percent of the total population.
During the pandemic, there was a 20% increase: the confinement at the beginning and the displacement of face-to-face activities towards virtuality have favored the growth in this direction, because leisure has started to be experienced from home.
If the number of users is skyrocketing, the video game industry must be taken seriously: based on an annual summary prepared by the Observatory of the Argentinian video game development industry (which belongs to the National University of Rafaela), the country has raised over $86 million in the past year.
Use and abuse of video games
Being a gamer, however, is not the same as developing an addiction.. Pavlovsky points out the following: “It should also be noted that those who develop problematic uses constitute a much smaller percentage of the total number of people who gamble. We cannot generate overdiagnosis and mistakenly thinks that everyone who plays has a mental health issue. Most do it for relaxation, entertainment or fun. Also, far from what sometimes stands, belonging to the world of video games can be used to meet people and make new friends and relationships.
From there, the psychiatrist adds new nuances: “There are individuals who work professionally in the world of video games. I have patients who are gamers, others who make their living analyzing games and reviewing them. They devote six, eight, ten, twelve hours a day to it, like any other job”.