Compulsive Video Game Playing Could Be A Mental Health Problem


Spending so much time on video games can be alarming for both physical and mental health, according to the World Health Organization. It may give the players foresight on how it is to be in the virtual world, but its effect on mental health is far from beneficial. Because of the effects observed from gamers who spend long hours on video games, the UN now classifies this habit as a mental disorder. And this conclusion was met by various reactions from parents who are dealing with the same experience on their kids and other family members.

Gaming Disorder

Professionals in the mental health industry say that this so-called “Gaming Disorder” is different from other mental health disorders. It has its definition, signs, and effects that separates it from the other identified mental health issues. Although the study of this condition is still considered premature, it is still quite alarming with the statistics of the affected individuals. What makes it worse is that most of those who suffer the disorder are kids.

Dr. Shekhar Saxena, from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Division of the World Health Organization, despite the prematurity of the case, did not set this problem aside. The doctor considered the proposal and recommended for the said issue to be enlisted as a mental health disorder. He also put an urgency statement that this condition must be acted upon at once and that a treatment program should be developed to address it immediately.

However, Dr. Joan Harvey stated that this could create unnecessary stress among parents. She indicated that in layman’s thinking such a claim would give the idea that a simple child just playing video games in his room can immediately become a game addict. And with the number of video games and game applications available these days, parents would have to be alert at all times.


World Health Organization Says This Is A Legit Problem

However, despite the objection, the World Health Organization accepted the theory and even labeled this case as crucial since the young ones are very exposed to video games. However, because of the leisure and entertainment it brings, the person concerned is entirely unaware of the effects of the game on him.

Dr. Henreitta Jones said that there is an alarming number of children losing interest in their studies, dropping from the academe, and having problems in school and at home. And all these have something to do with video games playing. According to Jones, such a condition can be treated through therapy, and there is also a possibility that medication would work as well.

Back in 2013, the American Psychiatric Association perceived that Gaming Disorder is another mental health issue that will be added to the long list of mental health disorders after validated clinical research. According to the professionals in the said association, there is no hard evidence yet associated with the stated condition for it to be labeled as a disorder.

In their official statement, they stated that the studies presented to them for the claim point out that spending significant time playing video games have triggered some reactions in the human brain and that can be similar to brain reactions on a drug addict. It triggers a neurotic response that is correlated with a person’s emotions.

Dr. Mark Griffiths, a mental health professional, researching Gaming Disorder for the past three decades, stated that Gaming Disorder as a new classification in mental health disorder would strengthen medical interventions towards it and make the problem legit in the mental health industry.

According to Griffiths, these games are considered non-financial gambling. The players here use points which is equivalent to money with the actual gamblers. The effect is very much the same since players view the items above as almost identical with those who are gambling. He also predicted that a small percentage of these players (and gamblers) are suffering from autism or ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder), depression or bipolar disorder. This statement was drawn through his observations.


The claim became more pronounced with Saxena’s revelation that there is around 3 percent of the players who suffered the disorders. This was drawn from several cases that the mental health professional handled himself. However, from the people’s point of view as coming from Griffiths, playing video games is just for entertainment only. There may be changes in behavior, but it cannot be considered an addiction. These people are not mental health specialists, though.

With these conflicting statements and theories, an official medical theory is not yet drawn. But mental health professionals warned the people and wanted them to be vigilant with all the changes and effects of constant gaming.

But one thing is for sure, if this gaming continues for a long time and is affecting his studies or work significantly, then this problem shouldn’t be set aside. The person must immediately seek medical help for this not normal behavior. And it is advised to have the consultation as early as possible so that immediate intervention would be executed to keep the affected person from getting into a much deeper condition that will not only affect him but the people around him as well.

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