The World Health Organization officially recognizes ‘Gaming Disorder’ as a mental health condition 1 1. WHO, 2018 ×
Over two billion people play video games worldwide 2 2. Newzoo, 2018 × , including 150 million in the United States alone 3 3. ESA, 2015 × . Gaming is a worldwide phenomenon and $100 billion dollar industry 4 4. Newzoo, 2018 × that continues to grow year-after-year. Gamers are all ages, with the average age of a gamer being 35 years old 5 5. ESA, 2015 × . Gaming is gender-neutral, with 83% of teenage girls playing video games regularly and 92% of teenage boys 6 6. PEW, 2018 × .
What Is a Video Game Addiction?
Video game addiction is real, and the World Health Organization will soon officially classify it under the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11).
Gaming Disorder is characterized by a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behaviour, which may be online or offline, manifested by:
- impaired control over gaming (e.g., onset, frequency, intensity, duration, termination, context);
- increasing priority given to gaming to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other life interests and daily activities;
- continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.
The behaviour pattern is of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning.
The pattern of gaming behaviour may be continuous or episodic and recurrent. The gaming behaviour and other features are normally evident over a period of at least 12 months in order for a diagnosis to be assigned, although the required duration may be shortened if all diagnostic requirements are met and symptoms are severe.
3-4% of Gamers Are Addicted
For most, gaming is a fun hobby, but for others it can be destructive, leading to significant impairment in personal and family relationships, educational and work opportunities, mental and physical health, and overall well-being.
Related: The Benefits of Quitting Gaming
Studies have found anywhere from 1-10% of gamers struggle with compulsive addiction issues, with the World Health Organization finding 3-4% in their own investigations 7 7. WHO, 2018 × .
- Average age of a gamer: 35 years old
- Average age of a gaming addict: 24 years old
- Gender breakdown of a gamer: Male: 50%, Female: 48% 8 8. PEW, 2015 ×
- Gender breakdown of a gaming addict: Make: 94%, Female; 6%
- Ethnicity breakdown of a gamer (USA): Caucasian: 67%, Hispanic: 15%, African American: 12%, Asian: 5%, Other: 3%
- Ethnicity breakdown of a gaming addict: Caucasian: 69%, Asian: 13%, Other: 18%
- Countries gaming addicts represent (to date): 92
Over Ten Million Addicted Gamers
With conservative estimates by the World Health Organization of 3-4% of gamers struggling with addiction challenges, there are can be tens of millions of addicted gamers worldwide, with this figure expected to continue to grow for the years to come. A large-scale study 9 9. CAMH, 2017 × in Canada recently found 13% of students grades 7-12 reporting symptoms of a video game problem, a 4% increase since 2007.
With tech companies continuing to pursue profits at all costs, including the integration of loot boxes and other gambling-like game design (of which governments in Belgium and the Netherlands have found to be illegal), and the introduction of college scholarships for esports (organized gaming), there is no time to wait to fight back against this issue.
Video Game Addiction Quiz for Parents
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