Attendees at the American Medical Association’s (AMA) annual meeting have argued against classifying video games addiction as a distinct mental disorder on a par with alcoholism, claiming that the subject requires more study by psychiatrists.
A committee of physicians had proposed that video games addiction should be listed as a disorder in the American Diagnostic and Statistic Manual of Mental Disorders – a guide used by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) – although it was seen to distance itself from the suggestion almost immediately.
A debate at the AMA annual meeting suggested that further research was needed and that the APA should consider a change only when it revises its diagnostic manual in five years time. The AMA committee will consider further testimony and make a final recommendation later this week.
"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," quoted the Reuters news agency
of Dr Stuart Gitlow of the American Society of Addiction Medicine and Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York.
Following the report, the APA made an official statement (pdf
) on the matter, noting the organization is open to a disorder being added to DSM "if the science warrants it."
The statement reads: "The APA defines mental disorders in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Since the current edition, DSM-IV-TR, does not list “video game addiction,” the APA does not consider “video game addiction” to be a mental disorder at this time.
"If the science warrants it, this proposed disorder will be considered for inclusion in DSM-V, which is due to be published in 2012. Revising DSM requires a years-long, rigorous process – one that is transparent and open to suggestions from our colleagues in the medical and mental health communities and the public.
"All changes to DSM will be based on the latest and best science. To date, the APA has named the chair and co-chair of the DSM-V Task Force – David Kupfer, M.D., and Darrel Regier, M.D., M.P.H., respectively – and is in the process of establishing the full task force, which will have overall responsibility for DSM-V’s development."
"Psychiatrists are concerned about the wellbeing of children who spend so much time with video games that they fail to develop friendships, get appropriate outdoor exercise or suffer in their schoolwork," the statement continues, "Certainly a child who spends an excessive amount of time playing video games may be exposed to violence and may be at higher risks for behavioral and other health problems. We look forward to further exploring this issue with our colleagues at the AMA House of Delegates meeting."
Doctors have previously classified moderate video games usage as harmless and have even suggested that it can help develop social skills among children with attention disorders
, including autism. The classification of video games indication would have serious implications for insurance coverage.