Doctors have stepped back from an earlier proposal to designate videogame addiction as a mental disorder, saying instead that the issue needs more study before any conclusions can be reached.
Dr. Stuart Gitlow of the American Society of Addiction Medicine and Mount Sinai School of Medicine said, “There is nothing here to suggest that this is a complex physiological disease state akin to alcoholism or other substance abuse disorders, and it doesn’t get to have the word ‘addiction’ attached to it.” Addiction experts have opposed the idea of classifying gaming addiction as a mental disorder, saying more study is needed before it can be considered a mental illness.
“It’s not necessarily a cause-and-effect type issue. There may be certain kids who have a compulsive component to what they are doing,” Dr. Louis Kraus, from the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, said in an interview.
And regardless of its status, excessive videogaming, which is estimated to affect around 10 percent of gamers, is detrimental to development, according to Kraus. “The more time kids spend on videogames, the less time they will have socializing, the less time they will have with their families, the less time they will have exercising. They can make up academic deficits, but they can’t make up the social ones,” he said.
Even the committee that made the original proposal has modified its stance, and is now recommending the American Psychiatric Association consider the matter again in five years, when it revises its next diagnostic manual. The proposal was debated at the annual meeting of the American Medical Association and will be voted on later in the week.