Game Over: W.H.O. Declares Video Game Addiction as a Mental Health Condition

Francesca Testen, In-Focus Editor

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Heroin, cocaine, and hallucinogens are all drugs that teens have heard about in health class lectures. There are many more things that teenagers worldwide are addicted to, including video games. Of course,
video games will not make anyone overdose or hallucinate, but they can be extremely addictive.

The World Health Organization, or WHO, declared that video game addiction is a mental health condition. Video game addiction will be included in the 11th International Classification of Diseases (ICD) which is being finalized in 2018. The ICD is a classification of diseases, often used for diagnoses.
In the case of video game addiction, “abnormal gaming behaviour should be in evidence over a period of at least 12 months ‘for a diagnosis to be assigned’” according to an article from the British Broadcasting Corporation about the this year’s ICD. A 2009 study by Iowa State University found that 8.5 percent of U.S. youth between ages eight and eighteen was addicted to video games. While this percent may not seem significant, video game addiction is still a health concern for the people it impacts. Signs of video game addiction include restlessness when unable to play, isolation from others to continue gaming, fatigue, and headaches from eye strain.

A video game addiction may not seem like a serious threat to a person’s health, but there are some consequences that can come with levelling up. A gamer may feel compelled to continue playing and will
avoid sleep or eating, which can have negative physical health effects.

A person’s mental and social health can also deteriorate when they are addicted to video games. For example, if a person were to isolate themselves from others to play games, they may, according to PsychGuides.com, “miss out on family events, outings with friends, or other events in the short-term. If this continues to be a pattern for a long period of time, however, addicts might find themselves without any friends at all.”

To read the full article, pick up a copy of the The Hawkeye from the newsstands outside the main office or media center.

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