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Video Games

'Gaming Disorder' makes latest WHO list of modern diseases

Gaming addiction joins the organization's list of potentially harmful technology-related behaviors that includes too much use of "the Internet, computers, smartphones" and more.

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The Fortnite booth at E3 2018.

Josh Miller/CNET

The World Health Organization just added "Gaming Disorder" to its list of modern ills.

It lives under the "Disorders due to addictive behavior" section in the organization's latest update to its International Classification of Diseases and is broken into three categories: predominantly online, predominantly offline and unspecified. WHO said in December 2017 that it would be adding the disorder.

WHO describes it like this: 

Health concerns associated with gaming behaviour are not limited to gaming disorder, but also include other aspects of health (e.g. insufficient physical activity, unhealthy diet, problems with eyesight or hearing, musculoskeletal problems, sleep deprivation, aggressive behavior and depression) and psychosocial functioning.

Studies suggest that gaming disorder affects only a small proportion of people who engage in digital- or video-gaming activities. However, people who partake in gaming should be alert to the amount of time they spend on gaming activities, particularly when it is to the exclusion of other daily activities, as well as to any changes in their physical or psychological health and social functioning that could be attributed to their pattern of gaming behaviour.

The discussion of gaming as an addiction isn't new, though the American Psychiatric Association still has it listed as up for discussion (PDF) in the latest version of its diagnostic bible, the DSM-5. The American Medical Association backed away from "video game addiction" in 2007.