Wed. Jun 19th, 2024

In recent years, there has been a growing concern among healthcare professionals and researchers about the potential dangers of excessive internet gaming. The phenomenon of internet gaming disorder, which is characterized by persistent and compulsive online gaming behavior, has been the subject of much debate and discussion. Some experts argue that it is a real and serious condition, while others believe that it is simply a matter of poor time management or lack of self-control. In this article, we will explore the evidence for and against the concept of internet gaming disorder, and examine the implications of its recognition as a legitimate mental health condition. So, let’s dive in and find out, is internet gaming disorder a real phenomenon or just a figment of our imagination?

Quick Answer:
Yes, Internet Gaming Disorder (IGD) is a real phenomenon. It is characterized by a persistent and recurrent pattern of gaming behavior that leads to significant impairment or distress in an individual’s personal, social, or professional life. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) has included IGD as a condition for further study, and research has shown that it can have serious consequences for individuals, including decreased academic or work performance, social isolation, and even physical health problems. While the prevalence of IGD is still being determined, it is clear that excessive gaming can have negative effects on individuals and their families.

What is Internet Gaming Disorder?

Definition and Symptoms

Excessive or Compulsive Gaming Behavior

Internet Gaming Disorder (IGD) is a condition characterized by excessive or compulsive gaming behavior that interferes with daily life and relationships. It is often associated with prolonged involvement in online gaming, leading to negative consequences such as decreased personal hygiene, sleep deprivation, and neglect of important responsibilities.

Negative Impact on Daily Life and Relationships

The negative impact of IGD on daily life and relationships can manifest in several ways. Individuals with IGD may experience a decrease in their academic or work performance, as well as strained relationships with family and friends due to their preoccupation with gaming. Additionally, some individuals may experience financial problems as a result of spending excessive amounts of money on gaming-related expenses.

Prolonged Involvement in Online Gaming Despite Negative Consequences

One of the defining characteristics of IGD is the individual’s inability to stop or control their gaming behavior despite experiencing negative consequences. This can lead to a cycle of self-destructive behavior, where the individual continues to engage in excessive gaming despite recognizing the harm it causes to their personal well-being and relationships. This prolonged involvement in online gaming despite negative consequences is a key symptom of IGD.

Diagnostic Criteria

Criteria for addiction proposed by the American Psychiatric Association

The American Psychiatric Association (APA) has proposed criteria for addiction, which include:

  1. Maladaptive behavior: The individual continues to engage in the behavior despite negative consequences.
  2. Cravings: The individual experiences a strong desire or urge to engage in the behavior.
  3. Tolerance: The individual requires increasing amounts of the behavior to achieve the desired effect.
  4. Withdrawal: The individual experiences negative symptoms when they stop engaging in the behavior.
  5. Loss of control: The individual has difficulty controlling the behavior.
  6. Negative consequences: The individual continues to engage in the behavior despite negative consequences.

Controversy surrounding the inclusion of Internet Gaming Disorder as a formal diagnosis

The inclusion of Internet Gaming Disorder as a formal diagnosis in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) has been a subject of controversy. Some experts argue that the criteria for addiction should be applied consistently across all behaviors, while others believe that Internet Gaming Disorder should be considered a distinct disorder due to its unique characteristics. Additionally, some researchers have raised concerns about the lack of empirical evidence supporting the validity of Internet Gaming Disorder as a distinct disorder.

Prevalence of Internet Gaming Disorder

Key takeaway: Internet Gaming Disorder (IGD) is a condition characterized by excessive or compulsive gaming behavior that interferes with daily life and relationships. It is a growing concern worldwide, with varying prevalence rates reported in different regions. Biological, psychological, and social factors may contribute to the development of IGD. Treatment options include cognitive-behavioral therapy, medications for co-occurring mental health disorders, and support groups. Prevention strategies include education and awareness campaigns, parental controls and time limits on gaming, and the promotion of healthy coping skills and lifestyle choices.

Global Prevalence

  • The prevalence rates of Internet Gaming Disorder (IGD) vary widely across studies, making it difficult to determine an accurate estimate of the disorder’s prevalence worldwide.
  • A meta-analysis conducted by Grant and Chamberlain (2016) reported that the prevalence of IGD among gamers ranged from 0.8% to 33.2%, highlighting the significant variability in estimates across different studies.
  • The prevalence of IGD also appears to differ depending on the sample population studied. For instance, research conducted on adolescent samples tends to report higher prevalence rates compared to studies on adult populations.
  • Cultural factors may also play a role in the prevalence of IGD, as some studies suggest that the disorder may be more prevalent in certain countries or regions.
  • Despite the variations in prevalence rates, researchers generally agree that IGD is a growing concern worldwide, as the popularity of online gaming continues to rise and the number of individuals experiencing problematic gaming behaviors increases.

Regional Differences

  • Internet Gaming Disorder (IGD) is a controversial topic with varying prevalence rates reported in different regions.
  • A systematic review and meta-analysis of IGD prevalence in various countries showed that the highest prevalence rates were found in Asian countries, such as South Korea, China, and Japan, compared to Western countries, such as the United States, Canada, and Europe.
  • One possible explanation for the regional differences in IGD prevalence is the gaming culture and access to technology in different regions.
    • In Asian countries, gaming is often viewed as a more accepted and integrated part of the culture, leading to a higher prevalence of IGD.
    • In Western countries, gaming is often seen as a more isolated activity, and access to technology may not be as widespread, which could contribute to lower IGD prevalence rates.
  • It is important to note that other factors, such as socioeconomic status, mental health, and cultural attitudes towards gaming, may also play a role in the prevalence of IGD in different regions.
  • More research is needed to fully understand the factors contributing to the regional differences in IGD prevalence and to develop effective prevention and treatment strategies for individuals affected by IGD.

Causes and Risk Factors

Biological Factors

While the exact causes of internet gaming disorder are not yet fully understood, research suggests that biological factors may play a significant role in its development.

Genetic predisposition to addiction

Studies have found that individuals with a family history of addiction are more likely to develop internet gaming disorder. This suggests that certain genetic factors may increase an individual’s susceptibility to addiction, including addiction to gaming.

Brain changes associated with substance addiction and gambling addiction

Research has also shown that internet gaming disorder may be associated with changes in the brain similar to those seen in individuals with substance addiction or gambling addiction. Specifically, studies have found that individuals with internet gaming disorder exhibit decreased activity in the prefrontal cortex, a region of the brain involved in decision-making and impulse control. Additionally, individuals with internet gaming disorder have been found to have increased activity in the reward system of the brain, which may contribute to the compulsive nature of their gaming behavior.

Overall, these biological factors may contribute to the development of internet gaming disorder and highlight the need for further research in this area.

Psychological Factors

  • Mental health conditions: Internet Gaming Disorder (IGD) is often linked to pre-existing mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety. Individuals who experience depression and anxiety may turn to gaming as a means of escape and may develop a compulsion to continue gaming as a way to cope with their symptoms.
  • Impulse control disorders: Individuals with impulse control disorders, such as substance abuse disorders, may be at a higher risk for developing IGD. This may be due to a predisposition towards addictive behaviors and a lack of impulse control.
  • Poor coping skills and stress management: People who lack effective coping skills and struggle to manage stress may be more susceptible to developing IGD. Gaming can provide a temporary escape from stress and can be a way to cope with difficult emotions. However, over time, this coping mechanism can become maladaptive and lead to the development of IGD.

It is important to note that while these psychological factors may increase the risk of developing IGD, they do not necessarily cause the disorder. IGD is a complex issue with multiple contributing factors, and it is essential to consider the individual’s unique experiences and circumstances when assessing their risk for developing the disorder.

Social Factors

Peer influence and social norms

One of the significant factors contributing to internet gaming disorder is peer influence and social norms. Adolescents and young adults often form close-knit groups that share similar interests, including online gaming. This social interaction can create a sense of belonging and validation, encouraging individuals to spend more time playing games and developing a compulsion for gaming. As a result, peers may inadvertently reinforce and perpetuate the problematic behavior, making it more difficult for individuals to break free from the disorder.

Availability and accessibility of online gaming

The widespread availability and accessibility of online gaming platforms have significantly contributed to the development of internet gaming disorder. With the rise of advanced technology and the internet, gaming has become increasingly accessible, with numerous free and paid online games available on various devices. This easy accessibility enables individuals to engage in excessive gaming without facing significant barriers, such as traveling to physical gaming venues or purchasing expensive gaming equipment. As a consequence, the convenience and affordability of online gaming can exacerbate the risk of developing internet gaming disorder.

Family dynamics and support systems

Family dynamics and support systems play a crucial role in the development of internet gaming disorder. A family’s structure, communication patterns, and parenting styles can influence an individual’s susceptibility to developing problematic gaming behaviors. For instance, families with limited supervision, poor communication, or a lack of interest in their child’s activities may fail to recognize the early signs of internet gaming disorder, allowing the problem to escalate. Additionally, a lack of emotional support or conflict within the family can lead to increased stress and an increased likelihood of turning to gaming as an escape mechanism, which can contribute to the development of the disorder.

Impact of Internet Gaming Disorder

Health Consequences

Internet Gaming Disorder (IGD) has been associated with various health consequences, affecting both physical and mental health. These health consequences can significantly impact an individual’s overall well-being and quality of life.

Physical health problems

Research has shown that individuals with IGD are more likely to experience physical health problems compared to those who do not have the disorder. Some of the physical health problems associated with IGD include:

  • Obesity: IGD has been linked to an increased risk of obesity, which can lead to various health problems such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and high blood pressure.
  • Poor sleep: Individuals with IGD often experience poor sleep patterns, which can negatively impact their overall health and well-being. This can include difficulties falling asleep, staying asleep, and waking up feeling refreshed.
  • Vision problems: Extended periods of screen time can cause eye strain, headaches, and other vision problems.

Mental health issues

In addition to physical health problems, IGD has also been associated with various mental health issues. These include:

  • Depression: Research has shown that individuals with IGD are more likely to experience symptoms of depression compared to those who do not have the disorder.
  • Anxiety: IGD has been linked to increased levels of anxiety, which can impact an individual’s ability to function in daily life.
  • Stress: The constant need to play and win at video games can create a sense of stress and pressure, which can negatively impact an individual’s mental health.

These mental health issues can have a significant impact on an individual’s ability to function in daily life, leading to decreased academic or work performance, and strained relationships with family and friends.

It is important to note that the health consequences of IGD can vary depending on the severity of the disorder and the individual’s overall health and well-being. It is recommended that individuals seek professional help if they believe they may be experiencing symptoms of IGD.

Social Consequences

Strained relationships with family and friends

Research has shown that individuals with Internet Gaming Disorder (IGD) often experience strained relationships with their family and friends. This is due to several factors, including a decrease in interest in offline activities, increased time spent gaming, and a lack of empathy towards loved ones. The result is often a decline in social support and an increased sense of isolation.

Social isolation and decreased participation in social activities

IGD can lead to social isolation and a decrease in participation in social activities. Individuals with IGD often prioritize gaming over other social activities, leading to a decrease in the number of social interactions they have. This can lead to a decrease in social support and an increased sense of isolation.

Financial problems and debt

IGD can also lead to financial problems and debt. The cost of buying games, gaming consoles, and computers, as well as the cost of online subscriptions, can add up quickly. In addition, individuals with IGD may miss work or school, leading to a decrease in income. This can lead to a cycle of debt and financial problems, which can further exacerbate the individual’s IGD.

Treatment and Prevention

Treatment Options

Internet Gaming Disorder (IGD) is a condition that has been recognized by the World Health Organization as a disease. The disorder affects a significant number of people worldwide, with a high prevalence of young people, especially males. It is characterized by excessive and compulsive gaming behavior that interferes with daily life and causes negative consequences. The following are some of the treatment options available for individuals with IGD:

  • Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT): CBT is a type of psychotherapy that helps individuals identify and change negative thought patterns and behaviors. In the context of IGD, CBT aims to help individuals identify the triggers that lead to excessive gaming and develop coping strategies to manage their urges. The therapy can be conducted in individual or group settings and can last for several weeks or months.
  • Medications for co-occurring mental health disorders: Many individuals with IGD may have co-occurring mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, or ADHD. Medications such as antidepressants, anti-anxiety medications, or stimulants can be used to treat these disorders and may also help reduce the urge to engage in excessive gaming.
  • Support groups and self-help strategies: Support groups can provide individuals with IGD a safe and supportive environment to share their experiences and learn from others who are going through similar challenges. Self-help strategies such as setting goals, keeping a journal, or practicing mindfulness can also be helpful in managing IGD symptoms.

It is important to note that the effectiveness of these treatment options may vary depending on the severity of the condition and the individual’s unique circumstances. A comprehensive assessment by a mental health professional is necessary to determine the most appropriate treatment plan for each individual.

Prevention Strategies

Education and awareness campaigns

One of the key prevention strategies for internet gaming disorder is to increase education and awareness about the potential dangers of excessive gaming. This can include educating parents, teachers, and young people about the signs and symptoms of internet gaming disorder, as well as the potential negative consequences of excessive gaming. Additionally, it is important to educate individuals about healthy coping skills and alternative leisure activities that can help to reduce the risk of developing internet gaming disorder.

Parental controls and time limits on gaming

Another prevention strategy is to implement parental controls and time limits on gaming. Parents can set limits on the amount of time their children spend playing video games, as well as restrict access to certain games or gaming platforms. This can help to reduce the risk of developing internet gaming disorder, as well as prevent the negative consequences associated with excessive gaming.

Promotion of healthy coping skills and lifestyle choices

Finally, promoting healthy coping skills and lifestyle choices can also help to prevent internet gaming disorder. This can include encouraging individuals to engage in physical activity, spending time with friends and family, and pursuing hobbies and interests outside of gaming. Additionally, it is important to promote healthy sleep habits and stress management techniques, as these can help to reduce the risk of developing internet gaming disorder and mitigate its negative effects.

FAQs

1. What is Internet Gaming Disorder?

Internet Gaming Disorder (IGD) is a proposed diagnosis for a pattern of persistent and recurrent gaming behavior that becomes so extreme it leads to significant impairment or distress in an individual’s personal, social, or professional life. It is characterized by a lack of control over gaming, withdrawal symptoms when gaming is stopped, and continuation of gaming despite negative consequences.

2. How is Internet Gaming Disorder different from normal gaming?

While normal gaming is a popular and enjoyable leisure activity for many individuals, Internet Gaming Disorder is a pattern of gaming behavior that becomes compulsive and leads to significant impairment in an individual’s life. Individuals with IGD may spend excessive amounts of time and money on gaming, neglect their personal hygiene and nutrition, and experience negative consequences such as social isolation and relationship problems due to their preoccupation with gaming.

3. Is Internet Gaming Disorder a real phenomenon?

There is ongoing debate about whether Internet Gaming Disorder is a real phenomenon or just a myth. While some experts argue that the diagnostic criteria for IGD are not well-defined and that more research is needed to establish its validity, others point to a growing body of evidence suggesting that IGD is a real and serious condition. For example, studies have found that individuals with IGD exhibit brain activity patterns similar to those seen in individuals with substance addiction, and that IGD is associated with a range of negative outcomes, including depression, anxiety, and decreased academic or work performance.

4. How common is Internet Gaming Disorder?

The prevalence of Internet Gaming Disorder varies depending on the population studied and the diagnostic criteria used. Some studies suggest that IGD affects a small percentage of gamers, while others estimate that it may be more common, affecting up to 8% of the general population. The prevalence of IGD appears to be higher in younger individuals and in those who play online games that are particularly addictive or have features that facilitate excessive gaming, such as virtual rewards and social interactions.

5. Can Internet Gaming Disorder be treated?

Yes, Internet Gaming Disorder can be treated. Treatment typically involves a combination of cognitive-behavioral therapy, medication, and support groups. Cognitive-behavioral therapy can help individuals identify and challenge unhelpful thoughts and behaviors related to gaming, while medication can be used to address co-occurring conditions such as depression or anxiety. Support groups can provide individuals with a supportive community of peers who understand the challenges of overcoming IGD. With appropriate treatment, individuals with IGD can learn to manage their symptoms and improve their quality of life.

INTERNET GAMING DISORDER | GAMING DISORDER DSM 5 | Is INTERNET ADDICTION a real thing?

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