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WHO to classify video game addiction as mental illness

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says it will recognise the effects of obsessive video gaming as a mental health disorder in 2018.

The organisation, in the beta draft of its 11th international classification of diseases, includes gaming disorder in its list of mental health conditions.

Compulsive video gaming is a modern-day psychological disorder which the WHO describes as a “persistent or recurrent” behaviour pattern of “sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning”.

The disorder is characterised by impaired control with increasing priority given to gaming despite negative consequences.

Gregory Hartl, a spokesman for the WHO, said the new ICD-11 entry on gaming disorder “includes only a clinical description and not prevention and treatment options”.

He said: “Use of the internet, computers, smartphones and other electronic devices has dramatically increased over recent decades and health problems as a result of excessive use have also been documented.”