From the eleventh revision of the Global Classification of Diseases, WHO included “gaming illness,” or video game addiction, as a valid mental health disorder.
In 2011, Douglas Gentile, Ph.D., professor of psychology at Iowa State University, and collaborators carried 2-year longitudinal panel research that trailed 3,034 kids in Elementary and Secondary school in Singapore to recognize the impact gaming has on mental health.
Researchers examined the children’s weekly amount of gameplay, impulsivity, social competence, depression, social anxiety, stress, and school performance, and they decided video game addiction presents similarly to other addictive behaviors. They also discovered that it is comorbid with other mental health disorders, such as anxiety disorder, social phobias, depression, and ADHD.
Infectious Diseases in Children talked with Dr. Gentile to learn more about gambling addiction and the value of the new ICD-11 classification.
What Behaviors and Patterns are related to Gambling Disorder in Children?
The correct scientific answer is, we are not entirely sure yet. The way that it has typically been measured is by the amount and breadth of dysfunction caused.
If it’s affecting school performance or household, psychological, social and emotional functioning, then it is like other addictions, which can be described on dysfunctionality, not necessarily on frequency. Some kids can devote a good deal of time gaming and keep it in balance with their other obligations.
However, for a minority of children, it does appear to become a problem balancing responsibilities and fun.
What parents often notice first is their kid giving up previous hobbies or interests. They withdraw into the games and avoid friends who do not play, replacing them instead with friends who do.
Parents may also see changes in sleep patterns or a drop in academics. One of these symptoms alone isn’t enough for a diagnosis, but it is indicative that there is a question to be asked about the child’s gaming habits.
At some colleges, there a good deal of first semester freshmen fails out of college and nobody knows all of the reasons why this happens. But, you can certainly envision an 18-year-old boy that, for the first time in his life, is away from parental observation.
Nobody is checking to see if he’s his homework done or is going to bed at a sensible time. He is also put on a dorm floor along with other 18-year older boys who also like video games, and they are given 24-hour high-speed internet.
They stay late up into the night playing video games together, begin sleeping and missing through some courses and their grades start to drop, which can be stressful for them. If they bother to go to student counseling service, they walk in, and they say, “I am concerned about my grades.”
The therapist properly asks grade-related problems, like their study habits or note-taking. They do not ask about gaming because the patient did not present a going concern, and the individual doesn’t speak about gambling since, to them, it is a part of the solution — it is how they deal with the strain.
However, the student ends up failing because nobody talked about gaming. That’s an illustration of why gambling disorder being categorized in the ICD-11 is so essential — pediatricians and doctors will need to ask the question about gaming.
How Video Game Dependence is Identified and How Widespread is it?
The fear spread by posts like Kardaris’s is that young individuals who play video games will probably become “addicted” to them. All of us understand what it means to become addicted to smoking, alcohol, heroin, or other drugs.
It says that we’ve got severe, physical withdrawal symptoms once we stop using the medication. Therefore, we’re driven to keep on using it even if we know it’s hurting us and we very much need to stop.
But what precisely does it mean to be addicted to a hobby, like a video gaming (or surfboarding, or some other hobby you could have)?
The question of whether the term “dependence” is useful at all, regarding anyone’s video gaming, is quite much debated by the experts. Presently, the American Psychiatric Association is considering the inclusion of “Internet Gaming Infection” (their term for a video gambling addictions) in their diagnostic manual.
Research demonstrates that the vast majority of video players, including those that are heavily immersed in games and invest considerable amounts of time in them, are at least as healthy emotionally, socially, and physically as are non-gamers. However, the research indicates that a small percentage of players are suffering emotionally in ways that are not helped by the gaming and possibly are worsened.
That is the finding that contributes to the American Psychiatric Association to indicate that the inclusion of online Gaming Disorder (IGD) for their official guide of ailments.
On a trial basis, the APA is suggesting that an individual obtain the diagnosis of Internet Gaming Disorder if minimum five of the following nine characteristics apply to this individual:
- Preoccupation*: Spends a great deal of time imagining about games, even if not performing them.
- Withdrawal: Appears agitated when not able to play games.
- Tolerance*: Wants to perform more, or perform stronger games, to find the exact same excitement as before.
- Reduce: Feels they should play but is not able to.
- Give up other activities*: Reduces involvement in other recreational activities.
- Continue despite problems. Continues to play games despite knowing they harm their life.
- Deceive*: Lies about just how much he or she games.
- Escape mood: Plays games to decrease stress or anxiety.
- Risk: Risks loss of meaningful relationships or job due to games.
Only by reading this list you can perhaps see why this definition is controversial. The suggestion is that if any five of those nine traits apply to an individual, then that individual has IGD.
But think about it. From the list above, we put asterisks following five characteristics which may well apply to anyone who’s intensely interested in almost any hobby (an opinion proposed by Markey & Ferguson, 2017).
Preoccupation may merely mean that the person is really into gaming. Anyone that has a passionate interest in any hobby is very likely to “spend plenty of time considering” it.
Tolerance likewise applies to virtually any hobby. As you develop greater skill at anything, you will need to raise the level of challenge to find the same thrill that you have before. If you’re a skier, by way of instance, the bunny hill is exciting at first, but then you need steeper hills.
Give up other activities. Well, obviously, whenever you spend more time on any hobby, there is less time for other things. Time is finite, so there is always a tradeoff.
Deceive. In a world where people disapprove of video gaming and are always nagging the gamer to play less, it’s hardly surprising that some would lie about how much they play.
Escape mood. Don’t we all occasionally, if not frequently, engage in our favorite hobby as a means of reducing anxiety or anxiety? If the hobby were skiing or reading, or, chess, people could regard this as a bonus, not a minus.
What we are suggesting here is that a person with a quite healthful enthusiasm for video gaming, who’s not at all suffering, could very well check off these five “symptoms” and thereby receive a diagnosis of IGD.
Another four items on the list, however, appear to be indicative of something wrong. If somebody is restless when unable to perform, is losing substantial relationships or meaningful employment due to gaming, feels that gaming is causing more harm than benefit, and is not able to stop–then that individual has a problem.
Given the vagaries of the diagnostic procedure, it isn’t surprising that many studies on the occurrence of gaming addiction have revealed a broad assortment of findings. One big scale, a well-designed survey administered in Norway reasoned that 1.4% of movie games are addicted (Wittek et al, 2016).
Other research, accompanied in many areas of the world and with different age groups of players and various evaluation criteria, have shown prevalence of dependence among players to be anywhere from as low as 0.6 percent to as large as 6 percent (interpreted by Ferguson et al., 2011; Wittek et al, 2016; and Markey & Ferguson, 2017).
To put it differently, no matter whose numbers you look at, the vast majority of video gamers aren’t addicted. The study also makes it clear that just spending a great deal of time playing video games isn’t evidence of dependence (Stockdale & Coyne, 2018). Deep, increased immersion in video games and addiction to video games isn’t the exact same thing.
So How Do Some Video Gamers become Addicted?
In a recent analysis, Sarah Coyne and Laura Stockdale (2018) examined a sample of adolescents and young individuals who had been hooked on video games, as evaluated with the 9-item IGD scale given before, and examined them on different clinical trials to other adolescents and adults who played video games mostly but weren’t addicted. She discovered that the addicted gamers, no matter which sex, were more anxious and depressed, and revealed poorer impulse control and cognitive function than players who weren’t addicted.
This is correspondence research, not an experiment, so it is tough to know to what level gaming addiction was a cause of those psychological detriments or a consequence of those. Another study (e.g., Bickel et al., 2014), however, has demonstrated that poor impulse control and reduced cognitive functioning are risk factors for a variety of types of dependence, so at least these characteristics will have contributed to the beginning of gaming addiction.
Another study, a few of which we discussed here, has additionally suggested that preexisting depression and anxiety may result in addictive video gambling (for more about this, see Ferguson et al., 2011).
In another research study, Daniel London and his coworkers (2016) discovered that gambling addiction was most possible to take place in people who were depressed or in different manners stressed and that had an avoidant instead of approach method of coping.
To put it differently, they were individuals who dealt with life issues by trying to prevent them instead of by attempting to face and resolve them. They were apparently playing video games not so much because they enjoyed playing, but more because gaming distracted their attention from serious issues they did not need to think about.
If video gaming were not a choice, they would quite likely use some other means of distracting themselves from their own problems.
Therefore, if you know someone who appears to be hooked to video gaming, your effort to assist should probably not concentrate on taking the video screen away. It should focus, instead, on attempting to understand, and help that person understand, what’s missing or wrong in different parts of her or his life and how that issue may be solved.