"What counts as a gaming disorder?

According to the WHO, gaming disorder is characterized by impaired control over gaming behavior; in other words, says Gentile, gamers know they should stop—to do their homework, to meet social obligations, or to get a good night’s sleep, for example—but they feel unable to.

Troublesome behavior also reaches disorder levels when gaming begins to take precedence over other interests and daily activities. With gaming disorder, this pattern continues and escalates, despite the negative consequences that occur because of it.

Another symptom of gaming disorder is lying about how much you’re gaming, Gentile says, which can damage trust with friends and family members. “These are ripples that look, at the time, like they’re small issues, but in fact, can have very serious long-term repercussions.”

The ICD-11’s new designation involves both online and offline forms of gaming. “It can include gaming on any platform—cell phones, tablets, or traditional console games,” Gentile says.

Games with an online component may have the potential to be especially addictive, he adds. In 2013, the American Psychiatric Association mentioned "Internet Gaming Disorder" in its own database of diagnoses, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), but stopped short of giving it its own entry.

Finally, for gaming disorder to be diagnosed, a person’s behavior has to be significantly impairing his or her personal, family, school, or work life. Normally, this pattern has been evident for at least 12 months.

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