The World Health Organization Says Playing Fortnite Could Lead to Video Game Addiction but Others Disagree
In June 2018 the World Health Organization (WHO) officially recognized video game addiction as a disorder characterized by compulsive and obsessive playing of video games. To receive this diagnosis an individual needs to exhibit:
- Impaired control over gaming
- Increased priority given to gaming over other activities (to the level that gaming takes over other interests)
- Continuation of gaming despite consequences
An individual needs to meet this criteria for at least 12 months for a diagnosis.
The WHO’s decision to recognize video game addiction as a disorder has been met by approval from some but disagreements from others. Parents were relieved to know that their children are struggling with a definite problem that is not unique (i.e. they haven’t failed as parents and video game addiction is relatively common). With acceptance of the diagnosis parents could start to shift their focus to getting their children the help that they need and healthcare professionals could start working on the treatment of video game addiction.
However the American Psychiatric Association (APA) publicly disagres with the WHO decision stating that further research was needed. This public disagreement begged the question “What the heck is the WHO and APA?”
The WHO is a global entity was created in 1948 to coordinate health information within the United Nations. This organization operates in more than 150 countries and helps coordinate the flow of health information among countries. The WHO has worked extensively on big projects such as the eradication of smallpox and combating HIV/AIDS and Ebola.
The APA is the largest professional organization of psychiatrists in the United States. The APA has over 37,000 members in the United States.
These two organizations are responsible for creating new diagnoses.
Why Are They Disagreeing?
Initially the disagreement between these organizations may seem strange. Why does one recognize it but the other doesn’t?
Remember that the WHO is a worldwide organization whereas the APA is U.S. based. In the United States we are just starting to have conversations about video game addiction because it has come up recently due to the massive popularity of games like Fortnite.
WHO officials in countries like China and South Korea have witnessed how video game addiction is treated as a public health crisis. Basically both organizations are just at different points in time with video game addiction. The WHO is further ahead in recognizing video game addiction because they have witnessed it for a longer period of time.
I do believe that the APA will officially recognize video game addiction as a real disorder at some point in the future. My hypothesis is based on all of the research that has occurred in other countries and I believe that the U.S. is just in catch up mode right now.
What do I do if I or a Loved One May Be Addicted?
Seeking out additional information is always a good idea. Review some of the other blog posts on this site and others to get more info. The New Jersey Family and Addiction Institute is based in Florham Park which is located in Morris County New Jersey. Please contact us if you have any questions or concerns.