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Gaming Disorder Now Real? Why You Shouldn't Get Your Health News from Forbes

Gaming Disorder Now Real? Why You Shouldn’t Get Your Health News from Forbes

There’s a problem when you’re a big digital publisher and pretty much allow anyone to write under your masthead. If you don’t carefully review and vet contributions from outside authors, people are going to write ridiculous things and make outrageous claims. Which, if allowed, will come back to haunt your reputation as a source of real, factual news.

Take, for instance,’s recent article about “Gaming Disorder,” which makes the shocking claim that the World Health Organization has just endorsed this new mental health diagnosis.

The only problem with this claim? It’s a lie, in my opinion.

I’m sure Bruce Y. Lee means well in his article discussing “gaming disorder,” noting that it recently appeared in a draft version of the next edition of the ICD-11. (The ICD-11 is the diagnostic manual the world uses to classify all medical diseases and mental disorders; the United States, however, relies more on the DSM-5 for mental disorder diagnoses.)

Here’s what Lee claims:

Being in the ICD-11 means that it is officially a health condition, a diagnosis that can be used by doctors, other health care workers, and insurance companies. Some may even call it a label.

Now Lee, an Associate Professor of International Health at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, should know better than to make this claim. He should know what a draft version of a document means.

In fact, the ICD-11 Draft makes is super easy to understand what things in it mean at this early stage of its development. They put a disclaimer on every single page:

Read the caveats
    ICD-11 Beta draft is:

    • updated on a daily basis
    • It is not approved by WHO
    • NOT TO BE USED for CODING except for agreed FIELD TRIALS

The ICD-11 Draft is published so that researchers can better coordinate additional literature reviews and meta-analyses on the proposed diagnoses. A draft version of the ICD typically takes years to make its way from draft form to its final form. It is not published so that random bloggers can write apparently false articles hyping possible new diagnoses.

Most importantly, it basically undermines everything Lee claims. These are very important things Lee never mentions in his Forbes article. One, that this diagnostic proposal is not final. Two, no doctors, insurance companies, or clinicians can use this diagnosis on people they see in practice. And three, it is, in fact, not a World Health Organization approved diagnosis.

Yet that’s the exact opposite of what Lee says in his opening paragraph:

Who believes that playing video games can become a mental health disorder? Yes, the World Health Organization, that’s WHO.

It’s no wonder mainstream media outlets such as Forbes are suffering from reputation problems. When they allow publication of hyperbolic articles like this proclaiming the World Health Organization has just recognized a new mental disorder when it actually hasn’t, that’s a real problem.

That’s why you probably shouldn’t get your health or psychology news from Forbes or a similar publication. (At the very least, take what you read there with a healthy grain of salt). There just seems to be little editorial oversight at these large digital publishers when it comes to the validity of the health information they publish. And such oversight would seem to be kind of important for a news organization that wants to continue to be taken seriously.

So yes, while “gaming disorder” is being considered in the ICD-11 Draft version of the diagnostic manual, it is not a recognized mental disorder at this time. Not by the World Health Organization or any other organization.


Read the Forbes article now: Do You Have Video “Gaming Disorder,” A Newly Recognized Mental Health Condition?

Gaming Disorder Now Real? Why You Shouldn’t Get Your Health News from Forbes

John M. Grohol, Psy.D.

Dr. John Grohol is the founder of Psych Central. He is a psychologist, author, researcher, and expert in mental health online, and has been writing about online behavior, mental health and psychology issues since 1995. Dr. Grohol has a Master's degree and doctorate in clinical psychology from Nova Southeastern University. Dr. Grohol sits on the editorial board of the journal Computers in Human Behavior and is a founding board member of the Society for Participatory Medicine. You can learn more about Dr. John Grohol here.

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APA Reference
Grohol, J. (2018). Gaming Disorder Now Real? Why You Shouldn’t Get Your Health News from Forbes. Psych Central. Retrieved on September 28, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 26 Dec 2017)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.