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Editorial | Gaming disorder

The use of gadgets has become so ubiquitous that we now see very young children, some of them still in their cribs, being entertained by Ipads and cellphones. They have become heavy users of technology and their parents do not even think twice about exposing their children to risks related to these modern gadgets. Pretty soon, they will grow to rely heavily on these contraptions as their source of entertainment, graduating into playing video and other computer games as they grow older.

In June 2018, the World Health Organization declared video game addiction as ‘gaming disorder.’ It has tagged “compulsive video gaming as a mental health condition in its updated classification manual.”

“For gaming disorder to be diagnosed, the behavior pattern must be of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning and would normally have been evident for at least 12 months,” said WHO.
Dr. Vladimir Poznyak, a member of WHO’s Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse, said three major diagnostic features or characteristics of gaming disorder are: gaming takes precedence over other activities; a “persistent or recurrent” behavior pattern of “sufficient severity” has emerged, and; the condition leads to significant distress and impairment in personal, family, social, educational or occupational functioning.

Poznyak said the impact is real and could include “disturbed sleep patterns, like diet problems, like a deficiency in the physical activity.” He said these characteristics are “very similar” to the diagnostic features of substance use disorders and gambling disorder.

This is one of the concerns that parents have to contend with in this increasingly gadget-reliant generation. Children no longer seem to enjoy outdoor activities and sports, choosing instead to play with their computers. The challenge now is how to wean them away from their gadgets and encourage them to enjoy social activities that will help them develop and grow into well-adjusted adults.

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