WHO classifies digital, video gaming as addiction

Namrata Devikar
Saturday, 23 June 2018

The International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11), issued by WHO, provides a way to map the changing patterns of diseases based on social perspectives. ICD also captures factors influencing health or external causes of mortality and morbidity, providing a holistic look at every aspect of life that can affect health.

Pune: The World Health Organisation (WHO) has classified addiction to digital and video gaming as “a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behaviour” that becomes so extensive that it “takes precedence over other life interests” in the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11). 

Psychiatrists and experts highlighted the growing concerns related to video game addictions and ways to deal with it.

Expressing her views on the issue, Mukta Puntambekar, Project Director of Muktangan Deaddiction Centre, said that in the past two years, the number of teenagers coming for counselling for Internet-related addictions have risen significantly, mostly due to increasing awareness about the issue.

“Parents also bring their children for counselling for problems related to smartphones addiction, be it playing games or continuous use of social media. The addiction to online gaming and social media is largely being seen in the age group of 10 to 21 years. Adults can be seen using their phones for a longer time. Many people get restless if they keep their phones away for two hours. To address this, parents should spend more quality time with their children,” said Puntambekar. She added that it has been observed that parents tend to introduce children to smartphones as they want their children to be engaged.

“Hence, since a very young age, children get used to smartphones, which is destructive. Parents need to talk to children more, which is not happening now. Also, children too observe that their parents are continuously on mobile phones and tend to do the same. Hence, use of gadgets and smartphones in front of children must be avoided as much as possible,” added Puntambekar.

Rujuta Mahajan, city-based psychologist said there has been a steady increase in the occurrence of gaming disorders over the past few years. She said it is more frequently seen in adolescents and younger adults between the age group of 15 and 25.

“Raising awareness about the problem is of utmost importance as it will help in prevention, early identification and treatment. Many people spend longer duration while engaged on phones. This may eventually lead to avoidance of other important activities like playing with socialising and studying. Thus social skills of a person are affected. Sometimes it can have serious effects on the physical and mental health of an individual as well,” said Mahajan.

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