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Video Games Addiction or an actual Disease? WHO to decide in vote next week

We all have had a friend (or that friend might just be us) that spends an excessive amount of time playing video games. Knowingly and sometimes unknowingly we continue to dwell in the habit without ever pondering over the consequences. It can damage our eyesight and at times inhibit our cognitive ability. One study found that screen time exceeding 6 hours can delay children growth and development.

That being said, there has been a recent update field in that regard. World Health Organization (WHO) is all set to call for a vote to categorize video game addiction as an official disease. Yes, soon your habit will actually be counted as a prescribed illness. Which would really demand you to look for medical treatment.

Video Games Addiction: An Actual Disease?

The decision to classify video games addiction as a disease comes about at a very crucial time. Much of the available empirical data suggests an increase in psychological distress as well as other resulting consequences. In other words, all the tangents of the addiction match the requisites of a medical illness.

Proponents of the classification point finger towards studies that have had MRI scans done of video games addicts. The findings showed a strong linkage between the addiction and increasing evidence of depression among individuals. The results proved to be somewhat similar for drug abuse problem such as alcoholism.

Just about last year, WHO had officially introduced a new clause in the 11th Revised International Classification of Diseases. It decided to qualify excessive video gaming as a proper medical disorder. Accordingly, gaming disorder was defined as “behavioural pattern with impaired control over gaming.” The main takeaway from the clause was that the behaviour continues irrespective of a realization of the consequences.

The decision was soon followed by the NHS funding video-game specific addiction centres to help individuals overcome the habit. A number of people registered, however, most had to face long delays before an appointment.

What is likely to happen?

Critics have been sceptical over the issue of WHO vote scheduled next week. In one way, if the vote passes by a majority, it would really formalize the earlier change introduced by the organization to categorize video gaming as a disorder. The disease, if video gaming becomes one, will be subjected to proper medical treatment. Rehabilitation, for obvious reasons, will be one viable option available for the patient. On the other hand, professionals will also be designated to treat the condition through medications. This would be done in order to have proper control over the resulting symptoms like depression, impaired cognition etc.

Having said all of that, there are reasons to expect the bill to fail. The International Game Developers occupy a strong lobby. Taking the case of Microsoft for example, a big tech giant that also specializes in game development. There have been rumours that Microsoft is attempting to influence the voters for a decision in their favour. The likely backlash, henceforth, is likely to have a profound impact on the results of the vote.

Areeba Hussain

Areeba is an independent medical and healthcare writer. For the last three years, she is writing for Tophealthjournal. Her prime areas of interest are diseases, medicine, treatments, and alternative therapies. Twitter @Areeba94789300

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