University of Tasmania psychologist Dr Halley Pontes, a world leading pioneer in gaming disorder diagnosis, recently gave a few of his thoughts on how to tackle the growing problem.
Dr. Pontes, who led a team to develop the world's first psychological test to assess the severity of the mental illness, Gaming Disorder, said that acknowledging the disorder is a big step towards combatting it: "At the broad social level, recognition of Gaming Disorder as a mental health issue can help decrease stigmatisation by allowing society to see disordered gaming as a true disorder and not as a sign of personal weakness, bad character or even lack of interest in other life matters and activities.
He added: "This is an important process that resembles early issues in social perception of depression as it was regarded as laziness and not as a mental health disorder.
The World Health Organization classifies Gaming Disorder as: "impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming over other activities to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities, and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences."
Dr. Pontes said that while the vast majority of people that play video games on a regular basis would not go on to suffer from a gaming disorder, some will: "We have developed the world's largest database on gaming behaviours and have provided personalised gaming feedback to nearly 300,000 gamers worldwide... In my research I have found that internationally, prevalence rates figure from robust studies using large samples suggest that Gaming Disorder is likely to affect between 1 to 3 percent of all gamers from developed countries."
Dr. Pontes research suggests that 67 per cent of all Australians are playing video games on a regular basis, meaning a possible 28,000+ people are affected from gaming disorder in South Australia alone.
Dr. Pontes closed by confirming that it appears that longer amount of time spent gaming, the greater the risk of developing a disorder: "Although time spent on gaming is not necessarily addiction, what we know from research is that longer hours invested in gaming usually leads to Gaming Disorder."
What is the amount of hours? Dr Pontes said the American Psychiatric Association suggested in the fifth revision of The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders that Gaming Disorder was likely to emerge on gamers playing for over 30 hours a week.
Anyone interested in checking their gaming behaviours can now fill in a few questions on the researchers' online platform www.do-i-play-too-much.com