The World Health Organization (WHO) included Internet Gaming Disorder (IGD), or game addiction, in the latest International Classification of Diseases (ICD), Chinese newspaper Science and Technology Daily reported on Nov. 28.
It is the first time for WHO to include the addiction in the global information standard. Though the criteria have not been officially published, game addiction is already a social issue that involves an increasing number of adolescents and even adults.
“All addictive behaviors can be considered as addiction diseases from a professional perspective,” said Huang Yueqin, director of the Institute of Mental Health, Peking University Sixth Hospital. According to her, game addiction is a kind of behavioral addiction.
WHO defines behaviors that cause suffering and damage social functions as mental disorders.
Yuan Yonggui, director of Zhongda Hospital’s psychiatry department, said that game addiction is similar to certain mental disorders caused by damage to the area of the brain that is responsible for the reward system.
Compulsive gaming is a key diagnostic criterion, while occasional gaming does not fall into the category of addiction, Huang explained.
A study by a university in the United Kingdom shows that game addiction might not be a chronic condition and it is the escape from reality that attracts addicts.
Most games can be very rewarding, regardless of how they are played, and this is especially important for teenagers. Not only do they get a sense of control, but also a sense of achievement and belonging.
According to He Rihui, director of a psychotherapy center in China’s southern city of Guangzhou, a close bond between parents and child will help develop a healthy mentality. He suggests parents spend more time with their children and respect their feelings.