At the very beginning of last year, the World Health Organisation (WHO) published the latest version of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD -11). The revised 11th edition saw the inclusion of a condition called “Gaming Disorder”. Up until then, “Gaming Disorder” had only been listed as a “condition for further study” within the 2013 fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM).
What is Gaming Disorder? Signs and Symptoms
A person with Gaming Disorder, as defined in ICD-11 by WHO, will show the following characteristics for at least 12 months:
- lacking control over their gaming habits
- prioritizing gaming over other interests and activities
- continuing gaming despite its negative consequences
To be diagnosed, these behaviors must be so severe that they affect a person’s:
- family life
- social life
- personal life
(Source: Medical News Today)
Should “Gaming Disorder” be a recognised medical condition?
The decision to recognise Gaming Disorder as a “condition” (that is treatable on the NHS) experienced a mix response:
Dr Richard Graham, a lead technology addiction specialist, was complementary towards the decision to recognise the condition which he believes “is significant because it creates the opportunity for more specialised services” and “puts it on the map as something to take seriously.”
Among the gaming community however, there is the perception that this could lead to over-reaction and further scrutiny of a hobby that is already greatly stigmatised. The concern is that parents will rush to the conclusion that their child plays ‘too much’ and that this is detrimental to their mental health.
Although he welcomed the decision, Dr. Rchard Graham added that he is sympathetic to those who do not think the condition should be medicalised because “It could lead to confused parents whose children are just enthusiastic gamers.”
So are computers bad for your health?
Although computers, the internet, and smartphones do facilitate gaming, they are not the cause of “Gaming Disorder”. These platforms were actually part of the WHO’s original research but were not deemed to be concerning in comparison to the addictive nature of gaming.
It should also be mentioned that Gaming Disorder is still a rare condition, with a prevalence rate among young people of 10-15% in several Asian countries and, 1%-10% in Western countries.
Nevertheless, how technology is used determines whether or not it will be detrimental to health & well-being. In fact, recent research from the University of Oxford found that the majority of children successfully incorporate digital technology and screen-based activities into their daily lives, even using it to their benefit, for example with homework.
“People think that children are addicted to technology and in front of these screens 24/7, to the exclusion of other activities – and we now know that is not the case.”
– Researcher, Killian Mullan.
So before computers are condemned to be bad for the health & well-being of young people, it is important to acknowledge that for the majority, computers are used sensibly, safely and positively. And that is what we encourage at Jam Coding.
We promote the safe and productive use of computers, even encouraging the kids who attend our workshops to go home and play outside afterward. What is more, our workshops were actually designed to teach children to use computers properly, by this we mean not just to play idly on them but to create, communicate and collaborate using the power of technology. They offer a 360 degree approach to eSafety. We are proud to have helped to raise the computing experience of thousands of learners, showing them that computers are for more than just gaming and all whilst helping them stay safe online.