Internet Gaming Disorder

Image is courtesy of Pixabay.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has added “gaming disorder” as a new mental health condition listed in the 11th edition of its International Classification of Diseases. Previously, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), a handbook used by health professionals in the U.S. and other countries to help diagnose behavioral health disorders called out “Internet Gaming Disorder” but says the condition warrants more clinical research before it can be classified in the book as a formal disorder.

WHO points out that all people who participate in gaming should be aware that gaming disorder is a real condition, and that it’s important to be mindful of how often they play video games. In general, parents should limit the amount of screen time their children have daily, and gaming is included in that, along with TV, computers, phones, and tablet use.  The recommended screen time for children two to five is under one hour and two hours for children five and older.

WHO’s criteria for the diagnosis of gaming disorder:

1) Gaming takes precedence over other activities

2) A person continues gaming even when it causes issues in their life or they feel that they can’t stop, and

3) Gaming causes significant distress in a person’s relationships with others, as well as their work or school life.

In order to be diagnosed with a gaming disorder, you must engage in this behavior for at least 12 months.

Scripps Health identifies the following health risks for those who get too much screen time.

Headaches, neck aches, backaches and shoulder aches. Your neck muscles are supporting the equivalent of 60 lbs. when you check email or text causing pain.

Repetitive use injuries. Tendinitis and carpal tunnel syndrome are just a couple of the ways your body may rebel against prolonged computer and gadget use.

Stress and sleep troubles. A constant flow of information from social and normal media can be overwhelming, and too much negative news can cause anxiety.  The light from backlit screens is also known to interfere with the body’s natural ability to wind down

Eye strain and dryness. A day of unrelenting staring at screens can add up to eyes that are red, overtaxed and weary, and we tend to blink less when staring at a screen.

Since most of us use a computer for much or all of the work day, it is important to find ways to minimize the impact of so much screen time on our health. Take frequent breaks and stretch regularly.  It’s important to look away from your screen about every 30 minutes and focus on something farther away.  Set a reminder on your computer or phone to remind you to take breaks. If possible, stand while talking on the phone or take a walk during your conference call.  If you can elevate your desk to stand and work, do it for a few hours a day. Pay attention to your posture. Good posture supports your head and reduces fatigue and aches.

Andrea wants to live in a world where the neighborhoods are walkable, bike lanes are plentiful, and the food is fresh, delicious and readily available. A 20-year veteran of the health and wellness industry, she started her career in the fitness industry while earning a master’s degree in Exercise Science and Health Promotion, and then on to the burgeoning field of worksite wellness. Andrea has competed in collegiate level soccer, worked as a personal trainer, fitness instructor, wellness coach, and master trainer, climbed 14ers, and completed cycling centuries and metric centuries. All of these experiences give her the opportunity to view well-being from many different perspectives. When she’s not helping others to be their healthiest self, you can find her at a farm to table restaurant, down dogging at the yoga studio, or experiencing the Colorado landscape on a bicycle, snowshoes, cross country skis or on foot.