Video Games Controlling Our Mental Health?

After monitoring computer gaming for a decade, the World Health Organization has come to the conclusion that it has a significant impact on our mental health. ‘Gaming disorder’ at its being described is one of the latest conditions to be included in their international list. The term ‘gaming disorder’ stems from excessively playing video games and letting it take precedence over other interests in life. This condition they say affects as much as 1 in 5 gamers’ today. The World Health Organization or ‘WHO’ recommend parents to keep children or teenagers monitored closely and to give a healthy time limit to gaming every day. Before diagnosing gaming patterns as a condition, the behaviour will have to continue for at least a year beforehand. Typical sufferers of gaming disorder are said to continue to game even when it leads to negative consequences. 

Scientist Vladimir Poznyak, at the WHO’s Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse said: ‘Health professionals need to recognise that gaming disorder may have serious health consequences. Most people who play video games don’t have a disorder, just like most people who drink alcohol don’t have a disorder either. However, in certain circumstances overuse can lead to adverse effects.’

Action games like Call of Duty and Grand Theft Auto have been found to deplete a key memory centre in the brain called the hippocampus as well as generally having a negative influence due to the violent nature of the games. It could also be said however that a lot of games in general have a positive effect on cognitive response, problem solving skills and reflexes. 

The agency has not listed other conditions linked to technology, such as issues of Smartphone and internet addiction due to a lack of real evidence they can be viewed as ‘disorders’. There have however recently been calls for conditions such as online shopping addiction and ‘binge watching disorder’. A great way to counteract these common addictions is to educate more on the risks of technology and the not so innocent auto play function which is especially common in video games and Netflix. 

Anything, taken to an obsessive level, can be unhealthy but that doesn’t classify it as being a disorder. It can’t be implied that this phenomenon is unique to gaming or the internet world. Just about anything can become addictive and become an unhealthy habit. Even working out excessively can be detrimental so it all comes down to context. If your work is taking precedence over your other interests in life would you be described as having a work disorder?