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The addiction to video games is considered by the World Health Organization, as of now, as a mental illness.
This was established by the organization, which decided to include “video game disorder” in its eleventh revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD, for its acronym in English) published this week.
This disorder is defined as a pattern of behavior against this form of entertainment that has such a nature and intensity that produces a marked affliction and significant dysfunction in personal and family relationships, and in the educational and social activities of the person who He suffers.
According to the ICD, this disorder is linked to insufficient physical activity, an unhealthy diet, lack of sleep, aggressive behavior, and depression, among other thing. The main objective of WHO to include this disorder in its guide is that it can serve globally to identify and treat its symptoms.
But given the growing popularity of video games like Fortnite or Minecraft among young people, how do you know if your child (or you) is really addicted to the game or if, like many other children, they simply fascinate you?
3 behaviors to be aware of
According to the WHO, there are three key symptoms that can help us determine when we are present in a case of addiction to video games:
1- Loss of control over the game
This means that the person is not able to control their behavior in this regard. That is, you can not limit the amount of hours you spend doing this activity or how often you do it.
2- Prioritize the game over any other activity
In an addicted person, the game is imposed on the rest of the daily interests and activities, which are relegated to the background.
3- Continuation or increase of the game
Even if the player is negatively affected by this behavior, he continues playing or even increases the frequency and the amount of time he does so.
To establish a diagnosis based on the three criteria mentioned, this pattern must be severe enough to affect the individual’s personal and social life and must be manifested for at least 12 months.
However, and in order not to create alarm, the WHO makes it clear that this disorder affects a very small proportion of the population that takes part in these activities.
Other worrisome signs, says on his page the Ninghtingale Hospital, a clinic in the United Kingdom that has a rehabilitation service for children addicted to technology, are irritability and anxiety when the person is not online.
In the opinion of Hernietta Bowden-Jones, addiction expert at the Royal College of Psychiatrists, in London, “if you realize that you keep playing until late at night, and avoid going to sleep to avoid staying out, this can be problematic “
Another indication that it may be an addiction, Bowden-Jones explained to the BBC, is when you start ” giving more importance to friendships on the web than to friends in real life.”
From hobby to obsession
For Kendall Parma, mother of a child who suffers from this addiction, the WHO decision is a good first step.
According to his BBC account, his 15-year-old son went from being a young man interested in his studies and sports to being completely dominated by his addiction.
“It started as something fun, like a hobby, but then it became a problem because he stopped doing homework and other things (music, sports) that he liked at school.”
“And in the house he became indifferent to the family,” says Parma.
The problem became more pressing when the young man stopped eating properly, bathing and sleeping, until the family decided to hospitalize him.
“There was no longer an offline version of him,” explains the mother.
All his attempts to get his son away from video games, like hiding the computer or the router, did not give him results.
Parma expects the WHO decision to be helpful for cases like your child’s.
“For me, this is the beginning of the beginning, and it will help a lot to validate it, so we will know what we are dealing with,” Parma said.