Insufficient Evidence To Call Gaming A Disorder, Says Oxford Internet Institute Study

Insufficient Evidence To Call Gaming A Disorder, Says Oxford Internet Institute Study
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A new study has come out claiming that there is nothing clinically wrong with obsessive gamers. The research was conducted by a coalition between Oxford University and Cardiff University.

The study has been published by the Oxford Internet Institute. It has concluded that they “do not believe sufficient evidence exists to warrant thinking about gaming as a clinical disorder in its own right.”

The partnership used information from a more extensive study done in 2018, which was conducted to analyze the online lives and behaviors of British adolescents. The survey was conducted in the United Kingdom and involved 1004 adolescents and an equal number of their caregivers. Research was conducted in England, Scotland, and Wales, where participants completed a self-report survey.

Caregivers answered questions about the youth’s emotional and social health and after were asked to leave the room. The adolescents were then asked questions about their online and gaming habits.

After all the participants answered their questions, the data was gathered and analyzed. In the end, Oxford and Cardiff determined that there is not enough evidence to claim that compulsive gamers have a disease.

The motivation to conduct this research came after the World Health Organization made a claim about obsessive gamers.

What happened?

Earlier this year at an executive board meeting, the World Health Organization (WHO) officially recognized ‘gaming disorder’ as a disease. Gaming disorder has been linked to people that are ‘obsessed’ with gaming.

The motion to label ‘gaming disorder’ a disease started in 2017 when WHO added it to the first draft of the ICD-11. A few months later, it found itself in the diagnostic manual, and it has now been officially endorsed by WHO.

Outraged ensued from the gaming industry, claiming that there wasn’t enough research done by the WHO to make such a concrete claim.

So, what has the study done by Oxford and Cardiff suggest about obsessive gamers?

The research determines that there are many other possible reasons for dysfunctional gaming. Gamers may be using video games as an escape from psychosocial issues and frustrations with real-world problems. For example, gaming may help someone cope with anxiety or depression.

By claiming that compulsive gaming is a disorder, the WHO is effectively stigmatizing gamers who spend a lot of time playing. The study by Oxford and Cardiff is vital to shine a light on the issue as a whole and offer suggestions on why obsessive gaming exists.

It will be fascinating to see if the WHO addresses the study that was done, and if they will reflect on their decision to label obsessive gaming as a disease.