Gaming Disorder Disability: Video Game Addiction (VGA)
Synopsis: Information regarding video game addiction, a problematic, compulsive use of video games resulting in significant inability to function in various life domains over a prolonged period of time. Video game addiction is a global phenomenon and can lead to poorer grades in school and serious psychological problems, including depression, anxiety, and social phobia. Some theories regarding video game addiction focus on the presumed built-in reward systems of video games - such as compulsion loops - to explain their potentially addictive nature.
According to ABC News, parents have many concerns about their children playing video games, including concerns about age appropriateness, the amount of time spent playing games, physical health, and aggressive behavior. There have also been at least a few deaths caused directly by exhaustion from playing games for excessive periods of time.
Video game addiction (VGA), (gaming disorder, internet gaming disorder, problematic online gaming), is generally defined as the problematic, compulsive use of video games that results in significant impairment to an individual's ability to function in various life domains over a prolonged period of time. To be considered a pathological gamer, the person has to be experiencing disabling damage to several areas of their life, including areas like school, social, family, occupational, and psychological functioning.
Some theories regarding video game addiction disability focus on the presumed built-in reward systems of video games to explain their potentially addictive nature. The anticipation of such rewards can create a neurological reaction that releases dopamine into the body, so that once the reward is obtained, the person will remember it as a pleasurable feeling. This has been found to be similar to the neurological reaction of other behavioral addictions such as substance abuse and gambling disorder, although not to the same magnitude and with some differences.
It must be noted here that many people play video games every day, and many people prefer them to linear entertainment like TV shows and movies. Just because a person spends his or her free time gaming does not mean he or she has gaming disorder. The habit must have clear negative consequences for the person's life to qualify as a disorder - or disability.
Gaming Disorder a Verifiable Mental Health Condition
The World Health Organization (WHO) classifies "gaming disorder" as a verifiable mental health condition.
Gaming disorder is defined in the 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) as a pattern of gaming behavior ("digital-gaming" or "video-gaming") characterized by impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming over other activities to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities, and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.
The International Classification of Diseases (ICD) is the basis for identification of health trends and statistics globally and the international standard for reporting diseases and health conditions. It is used by medical practitioners around the world to diagnose conditions and by researchers to categorize conditions.
The WHO describes gaming disorder as having three distinct traits:
- A person with gaming disorder prefers playing video games over all other activities.
- A person with gaming disorder will continue playing games even after suffering personal losses or experiencing relationship breakdowns due to his or her gaming habits.
- A person with gaming disorder will continue playing games even at the cost of real-world consequences, such as less time spent with friends and family and suffering performance at work.
Video game addiction is a global phenomenon and can lead to poorer grades in school and serious psychological problems, including depression, anxiety, and social phobia.
Symptoms May Include:
Problem gambling, depression, social withdrawal, playing video games for extremely long periods of time.
Complications Can Include:
Mood disorders, depression, somatization, sleep disturbances, obesity, anxiety disorders.
1 to 3% of those who play video games - (Wikipedia).
Risk Factors Include:
Preexisting mental disorder (ADHD, OCD, compulsive behavior, conduct disorder, depression, behavioral inhibition), personality traits (neuroticism, impulsivity, aggressiveness), younger people, male gender.
APA Criteria for Characterizing Proposed Internet Gaming Disorder
- The American Psychiatric Association (APA) has developed 9 criteria for characterizing the proposed Internet Gaming Disorder:
- Give up other activities: Do you lose interest in or reduce participation in other recreational activities due to gaming?
- Reduce/stop: Do you feel that you should play less, but are unable to cut back on the amount of time you spend playing games?
- Pre-occupation: Do you spend a lot of time thinking about games even when you are not playing, or planning when you can play next?
- Risk/lose relationships/opportunities: Do you risk or lose significant relationships, or job, educational or career opportunities because of gaming?
- Withdrawal: Do you feel restless, irritable, moody, angry, anxious or sad when attempting to cut down or stop gaming, or when you are unable to play?
- Deceive/cover up: Do you lie to family, friends or others about how much you game, or try to keep your family or friends from knowing how much you game?
- Escape adverse moods: Do you game to escape from or forget about personal problems, or to relieve uncomfortable feelings such as guilt, anxiety, helplessness or depression?
- Tolerance: Do you feel the need to play for increasing amounts of time, play more exciting games, or use more powerful equipment to get the same amount of excitement you used to get?
- Continue despite problems: Do you continue to play games even though you are aware of negative consequences, such as not getting enough sleep, being late to school/work, spending too much money, having arguments with others, or neglecting important duties?
The American Psychiatric Association (APA) has said there is not "sufficient evidence" to consider gaming addiction as a "unique mental disorder." While the APA does not recognize video game addiction as a disorder, in light of existing evidence, the organization included video game addiction as a "condition requiring further study" in the DSM-5 as Internet gaming disorder.
Resources That Provide Relevant Information
- Use of Electronic Devices to Calm Kids
- When Children Are Allowed TV and Games in Bedroom
- Screen Time Linked to Psychological Problems in Children
- Too much TV, Video and Computer Can Make Teens Fatter
- Link Between Excessive Screen Time and Teen Suicide Risk
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