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 News Update 

Gaming Addiction Classified as Disorder by WHO

Those of us who are older enough to remember the 1970’s or 80’s, the decades when the first real game consoles started to appear that had any real playability like the 1972 Magnavox Odyssey. The first ever home console you could link to the TV, or the Atari pong, all the way up until the Sega Master systems and Mega drives, NES and Super NES started to take gaming to the next level. With increased colours, sound, speed and graphics that really immersed the gamer in to the virtual world that is now modern gaming. Now bang up to date we have the XBOX one and PS4 or Nintendo Wii and the world of online gaming, where you can get totally immersed within the virtual world of maybe Halo 5 or the endless building and adventures that is the world of Minecraft. Its fun, exciting and in most cases a healthy way of switching off from a stressful day at work or as a treat after your child has finished their homework.

But what happens when it takes over your life and it is all you can think about? Affecting your home and work life to the point where your spouse leaves, friends stop calling and employment ceases. Now this is an extreme scenario but it does happen, there have been many studies done over recent years to the point that now the WHO (World Health Organisation) has classified it as a known disorder.

Read on for potential symptoms, affects and what you can do about it as individual or as an employer and what it could mean from an occupational health stand point for your employees.


Studies suggest that gaming disorder affects only a small proportion of people who engage in digital- or video-gaming activities. However, people who partake in gaming should be alert to the amount of time they spend on gaming activities, particularly when it is to the exclusion of other daily activities, as well as to any changes in their physical or psychological health and social functioning that could be attributed to their pattern of gaming behaviour.

In a study by the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2009, children and teens who said they played more than 45 minutes of video games per day were more likely to report poorer health and increased psychological distress than those who played less than that amount. Those gamers also were found to have more behavior problems.

Symptoms include:

  • impaired control over gaming (frequency, intensity, duration)
  • increased priority given to gaming
  • continuation or escalation of gaming despite negative consequences
  • Prolonged sitting required. This type of sedentary behavior can lead to obesity.
  • Sleep deprivation and/or disturbance
  • Poorer mental health and behavioural issues
  • Disinterest in social/family interaction
  • loss of focus at school

Some of the physical signs or symptoms of video game addiction include:

  • Fatigue
  • Migraines due to intense concentration or eye strain
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome caused by the overuse of a controller or computer mouse
  • Poor personal hygiene
  • Obesity risk
  • Diet/nutrition issues
  • Social isolation
  • General physical decline

There are a lot of for and against studies in relation to the negative and positive effects of video game usage and how it relates to work and schooling.

Cases for video gaming:Cases against video gaming:
  • Brain growth
  • Improvements to eyesight
  • Self-awareness and happiness
  • Can fix attention issues
  • Higher cognitive control and function
  • Decreased empathy
  • Increase in violence
  • Social isolation
  • Obesity
  • Poor hygiene
  • Preoccupation with thoughts of previous online activity or anticipation of the next online session

These are just a few of the pro’s and con’s of gaming and many more studies will continue to be done as gaming progresses.

These points all have relevance as an employer or teacher as to the possible side effects on your students and employees, the issues that could arise within the working environment and how it could affect you as an employer going forwards and what to do about it.

For office staff that use display screen equipment (DSE) within their roles this could really impact their mental and physical health if they are in a fairly static role during their working day and any potential symptoms like eye strain, back, neck and wrist issues will be further exacerbated if they are static at home whilst gaming for long periods of time.  For more information please follow the link to the HSE website (Health and Safety executive).

Here are a few tips to minimise the possible damage whilst still achieving all the enjoyment and benefits of gaming.

  • Have a cut off time, set an alarm and keep it ideally to an hour max, 45 minutes for children.
  • Take responsibility for yourself and/or your children, monitor yourself and their moods for any negative changes in behaviour
  •  Make sure physical activity and interaction with friends and family comes first
  • As an employer keep up to date on HSE guidelines in reference DSE
  • Take regular breaks, get up and move around,
  • Drink plenty of fluids and don’t forget to eat.

Some of the emotional signs or symptoms of video game addiction include:

  • Feelings of restlessness and/or irritability when unable to play
  • Preoccupation with thoughts of previous online activity or anticipation of the next online session
  • Lying to friends or family members regarding the amount of time spent playing
  • Isolation from others in order to spend more time gaming

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