Gaming disorder is the newest addictive disorder listed in the World Health Organization’s medical diagnostic guide. Symptoms include prioritizing video games over responsibilities and other activities, having no control over impulses to play, and increasing time spent playing video games regardless of the consequences. To be diagnosed, a person must have “significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning” in the last year, according to the WHO.
Gaming disorder was added because a number of treatment programs for adults and teens with this addiction have sprung up around the world, the organization said. Additionally, the WHO reviewed existing evidence and consulted with experts before the addition.
Dr. Michael Bishop runs a treatment program he calls “a summer camp for screen overuse,” and this spring he told NPR’s Anya Kamenetz that one category of teens he often sees is boys, overwhelmingly, who spend so much time playing video games that they “fall behind in their social skills.” Often they are battling depression or anxiety, or they may be on the autism spectrum.