For the first time, excessive video gaming will soon be categorized as a mental health disorder, the World Health Organization (WHO) has announced.

The new version of the International Classification of Diseases, a diagnostic manual, which includes the new ‘gaming disorder’ and its criteria, will be published this year.

The official disorder wording is yet to be released, according to the New Scientist. The manual was last updated 27 years ago, in 1990.

One of the criteria in the draft states that a person has a ‘gaming disorder’ if ‘gaming takes precedence over other life interests.’ Another noted that affected gamers will hardly stop from gaming even if it leads to negative consequences.

“Most people who play video games don’t have a disorder, just like most people who drink alcohol don’t have a disorder either. However, in certain circumstances overuse can lead to adverse effects,” said Vladimir Pozynyak, WHO Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, was quoted as saying.

The international health organization, however, has not included other disorders related to the use of technology such as social media addiction or internet addiction. There’s a lack of evidence if such use does lead to a kind of mental health disorder.

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) has already touted the potential problem of internet gaming addiction and listed nine symptoms which include anxiety, withdrawal symptoms and antisocial behaviour.

The study, which was published in the American Journal of Psychiatry, noted that 2 to 3 percent of the 19,000 participants have experienced five or more of the symptoms.

“The great majority of gamers - nearly three in four - reported no symptoms at all that we would link with addictive gaming behaviour,” said the researchers.

As for the amount of time gamers spend on gaming, one in ten gamers reportedly spent 12 hours playing, according to a survey conducted by computer security company ESET.

Worldwide, there are 1.2 billion gamers, 700 million of whom are online gamers. MIMS

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