Gaming addiction has become a growing worldwide phenomenon that needs to be treated in the same way as other common addictions, according to the National Rehabilitation Center (NRC), the UAE’s leading rehabilitation body.
The topic is one of several that was discussed during the 6th meeting on Public Health Implications of Behavioural Addictions which is currently being held in Abu Dhabi. The meeting brings together Academics and Clinicians from around the world to discuss the health conditions, diagnoses and rehabilitation programs associated with excessive use of the Internet and other communication and gaming platforms.
In May 2019, the WHO, added gaming addiction to its International Classification of Diseases (ICD), a highly regarded compendium of medical conditions. It describes gaming addiction as “characterized by 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”.
“The inclusion of gaming addiction to the International Classification of Diseases has helped us understand the seriousness of this issue in the UAE and around the world”, said H.E. Dr. Hamad Al Ghaferi, Director General of the NRC who was speaking at the conference. “It not only provides us with the ability to develop the programmes and resources required to help those in need, but it also gives us the opportunity to study its prevalence and to develop treatment recommendations to this condition” he added.
Video Games, and in particular mobile gaming remains extremely popular in the UAE. According to a study by the gaming analytics firm Newzoo in 2019, the UAE is consistently ranked amongst the world’s top 100 gaming markets based on revenue source, with more than 80 per cent of smartphone users in the UAE identifying themselves as ‘mobile gamers’.
“The popularity of video games in the UAE means that the potential for addiction is always a possibility and we can anticipate more comprehensive studies into gaming addiction that can lead to guidelines to limit screen and gaming time”, said H.E. Dr. Al Ghaferi. “I look forward to the conclusions and actions that this meeting will bring”.