'Gaming Disorder' - Just One of the Ways Technology is Affecting Health
Published: 11 August 2018
Published: 11 August 2018
In 2018, the World Health Organisation stated that gaming disorder was to be included in the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD) 11th revision (Poznyak 2018).
The term gaming disorder describes a person who partakes in ‘gaming’ (video and digital games) to excess, may put the activity over other aspects of their life, and may no longer have healthy relationships, socialisation or daily routines/behaviours (WHO 2021).
Whilst gaming disorder may be alarming and could evidently affect an individual's daily functioning, controversy surrounds this classification, with Aarseth et al. (2017) debating its inclusion in the ICD-11 for a number of reasons.
One concern expressed by Aarseth et al. (2017) was that the inclusion of gaming disorder as a classified disease may stigmatise healthy video game players.
Evidently, there needs to be follow-up research on its classification, with clear distinctions between healthy and unhealthy/disordered gaming defined.
Gaming is not all bad: video games and new technologies, used in the right way, can have various positive effects on a person's health and the provision of healthcare.
In fact, gaming is just one example of how new technologies are forcing us to rethink current healthcare trends.
With the popularity and convenience of mobile phone use, it's important for research to investigate the potential health effects on humans.
Similar to gaming, excessive mobile phone use has also been described as an ‘addiction’, ‘problematic’ and ‘dysfunctional’ (Elhai et al. 2017; Billieux et al. 2014).
In a systematic review, Elhai et al. (2017) found there were some links between excessive mobile phone use and depression, anxiety and stress.
Likewise, Davey and Davey (2014) reported in their systematic review and meta-analysis that smartphone addiction in Indian adolescents was connected to ‘significant negative health risks and harmful psychological effects’, as well as decreased ‘interpersonal skills’.
This study indicated that there is a need for further research into smartphone addiction, with a focus on high-quality research with ‘larger sample sizes’.
A systematic review by Roosli et al. (2010) was unable to determine whether ‘long-term low-level exposure’ to mobile phone base station radiation influenced human health, demonstrating the need for further research in the field of mobile phone technology and its effects on health.
In 2018, Keykhosravi et al. concluded in their systematic review that the ‘level of evidence associated with the effects of radiation from the mobile phone and tablet on the skin is poor’.
However, Yang et al. (2017) found in their systematic review and meta-analysis that ‘long-term mobile phone use may be associated with an increased risk of glioma’ (a common brain tumour). (It is important to note, however, that the researchers also found that ‘current evidence is of poor quality and limited quantity’.)
A different systematic review and meta-analysis by Adams et al. (2014) found that mobile phone exposure was also 'associated with reduced sperm motility and viability'.
Mishra et al. (2017) revealed in their systematic review that ‘cell phone emitted radiations had an adverse effect on salivary glands and facial nerves. Studies showed that cell phone emitted radiations had effects on oral mucosal cells and caused changes in salivary flow rate. It was still unclear that cell phone radiations cause tumours of the salivary glands.’
Evidently, there is a need for future research into the influence that common forms of technology have on human health. This is particularly evident when considering that technology is constantly evolving and is incorporated into the everyday life of most people.
Clinical nursing practice is relying more and more on technology, with the inclusion of networking of devices (e.g. printers, ECGs, spirometry testing) and computers (e.g. for documentation), indicating that we should be more conscious of just how much time we are spending on our devices, and how to recognise when our usage is beginning to become problematic.