The World Health Organization Announces “Gaming Disorder” as the Newest Mental Health Epidemic
How often do you or your friends play video games? Are your children spending more time in front of a screen than you would like? Have you tried cutting down on gaming, but can’t seem to stop? If turning on a game console is more important than taking care of your body, your health, and your relationships with others, gaming disorder might be the culprit.
This week, the relationship between video games and mental health has been pushed into the forefront of a national discussion. Researchers are discovering that disconnecting from devices is crucial to maintaining your health. In the 11th edition of their International Classification of Diseases, the World Health Organization (WHO) introduced gaming disorder as a growing mental health concern.
The connection between electronic devices and your mental, emotional, and physical health is, without a doubt, a hot topic. In fact, turning off electronic screens and getting outdoors has always been a key part of the Walking With America vision! Check out the sections below for a further discussion on gaming disorder, why disconnecting from devices can be an essential part of good mental health, and how WWA can help.
What is Gaming Disorder?
Gaming disorder is listed as an addictive behavior similar to gambling or substance abuse disorders. According to the International Classification of Diseases (ICD), gaming disorder is defined by “a pattern of persistent or recurring behavior” for online or offline gaming. People affected by gaming disorder share the following characteristics:
- Lack of control, even when gaming patterns produce negative outcomes
- Gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities
- Gaming leads to significant distress and impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas
Signs of Gaming Disorder
Although gaming disorder has only recently been recognized, thousands of people have been battling addiction to electronics for years. reSTART is one of the first inpatient treatment programs designed to treat Internet and gaming addiction in the US. According to reSTART, warning signs and symptoms of gaming disorder include:
- Increasing amounts of time spent on computer and internet activities
- Failed attempts to control behavior
- Heightened sense of euphoria while involved in computer and internet activities
- Craving more time on the computer and internet
- Neglecting friends and family
- Feeling restless when not engaged in the activity
- Being dishonest with others
- Computer use interfering with job/school performance
- Feeling guilty, ashamed, anxious, or depressed as a result of behavior
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Physical changes such as weight gain or loss, backaches, headaches, carpal tunnel syndrome
- Withdrawing from other pleasurable activities
How Walking With America Can Help
One of the core components of Walking With America has always been the deep desire to help people get up, get moving, and engage with their surroundings. On average, we spend as much as 93 percent of our lives either indoors or inside a car. For those suffering from gaming disorder, that time is dominated with staring at either a television, computer, or console screen.
Recent studies have suggested that excessive time spent playing video games is connected to anxiety and depression. For some, gaming disorder can be a secondary effect of these mood disorders. In extreme cases, treating anxiety and depression comes in the form of therapy and medication — but it is also possible to use physical exercise (like walking) to boost your mental and emotional health.
Walking releases endorphins, builds strength, and promotes better circulation. It clears the mind and gives you an opportunity to organize your thoughts. More importantly, the goal of Walking With America is to create a national movement FOR movement — WWA promotes genuine, healthy, and unique ways to interact with the people and the environment around you.
By creating a daily routine of walking — by yourself, with your dog, or joined by a friend or family member — you can start to reshape your thinking, boost your physical strength, and nourish your mental and emotional health!
After You Walk–Share Your Story!
Has your interaction with video games and time spend staring at a screen gotten in the way of your daily life? How has walking helped improve your own emotional or mental health? Find us on Instagram or Facebook and let the Walking With America community know! We would love to hear your personal stories and share in all of your successes!
As always, don’t forget to #walkwithme every Saturday morning as we all share a moment of our lives together and come to a happier, healthier understanding of our world.