The advent of technology has brought along with it some unique problems in medical and mental health. The WHO has now highlighted Gaming disorder as a behavioral addiction problem.
The DSM-5 notes that gaming must cause “significant impairment or distress” in several aspects of a person’s life. This proposed condition is limited to gaming and does not include problems with general use of the internet, online gambling, or use of social media or smartphones.
The proposed symptoms of internet gaming disorder include:
- Preoccupation with gaming
- Withdrawal symptoms when gaming is taken away or not possible (sadness, anxiety, irritability)
- Tolerance, the need to spend more time gaming to satisfy the urge
- Inability to reduce playing, unsuccessful attempts to quit gaming
- Giving up other activities, loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities due to gaming
- Continuing to game despite problems
- Deceiving family members or others about the amount of time spent on gaming
- The use of gaming to relieve negative moods, such as guilt or hopelessness
- Risk, having jeopardized or lost a job or relationship due to gaming
What is gaming disorder?
According to the WHO, “Gaming disorder is defined in the 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) as a pattern of gaming behavior (“digital-gaming” or “video-gaming”) characterized 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”.
For gaming disorder to be diagnosed, the behavior has to be present for at least 12 months and must be of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning.
The effects of gaming disorder
- Dropout from School
- Family Conflict
- Poor mental health
- Social isolation
What Doctors and parents can do to prevent gaming disorder in children
- Doctors can encourage parents to set time limits for children’s entertainment screen time to less than 1 to 2 hours per day
- Parents should regulate the child’s media use by teaching when and how to stop, agreeing to the duration of play and setting a timer
- Video games should not be played within half an hour before sleep time
- Engaging children in other activities such as sports, art, or reading
Treatment includes cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which could be individual, group or family therapy.
Medications like Wellbutrin or other Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors have been used for treatment of gaming disorder.
Evaluation of related concerns such as psychological health indicators such as depression, impulsivity, anxiety, self-esteem, and life satisfaction.
Seek professional help for gaming disorder from a Psychiatrist, Psychologist, Psychotherapist or mental health worker.
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