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Top Chinese Clinician Disputes New WHO Internet Addiction Diagnosis

Internet addiction – including gaming disorder – is caused by a combination of factors

By Xu Mouquan Updated Oct.11

Gaming addiction was for the first time classified as a mental health disorder by the World Health Organization in the 11th Edition of its International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11), released in June. But the director of China's top mental institute, Peking University's Sixth Hospital, has pushed back against the new diagnosis, Shanghai-based news portal The Paper reports. 

Speaking at a National Health Commission news conference on September 25 for the release of a report on Chinese youth health, Lu Lin argued that the condition was a symptom of established mental health disorders and stressors. Behind it may be any combination of problematic relations with parents, a stressful school environment, attention deficiency disorder, anxiety or depression, he claimed. 

Lu said the incidence of youth internet addition is 6 percent worldwide, but close to 10 percent in China – and the country is formulating treatment guidelines. Clinically, doctors treat the anxiety and depression of youths to alleviate internet addition. 

He called on families to provide a favorable environment so young people have more time, can avoid overreliance on the internet, and are encouraged to go offline into the real world. Meanwhile, education, school and peer support are also vital, he said.