Internet Gaming Disorder:Is it a reality? Is it an addiction? Does it need special mention? What can we do if it’s a reality ?

August 13, 2019

Researchers are still in confusion. American psychiatric association who came with DSM – 5(Diagnostic and Statistical Manual)in 2013 kept this as an entity which needs further research. Currently,Gambling disorder is the only behavioral addiction identified in DSM-5.

WHO(World Health Organization)is going to come with ICD-11(International Classification of Diseases) in 2022 has already declared on May 25’th 2019 that Gaming disorder is going to be disease entity in its new guideline revision. Its language calls gaming disorder ‘a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behavior (‘digital gaming’ or ‘video- gaming’), which may be online or offline.

South Korea and China, video gaming has  already been recognized as a disorder and treatment programs have been established.

“Sir , our son is not going to school these days. Stubborn , irritable and abusive. Most of the time he is on gadgets. Mostly spending time on online games . Currently he is in 12’th grade; until 9’th grade he was doing well in his studies. Since then he is indulging in gaming and his scholastic performance start coming down. His sleep and eating pattern are grossly disorganized. He is demanding for a high end computer as a pre-condition to go to school and to attend exams. He is not willing to see any counselor. What can we do doctor?”

Gaming & Gaming addiction, how prevalent is it?

Online games are very popular. Roughly 160 million American adults play internet based video games. At least one person from 2/3 households of America plays video games. Roughly 23 % of people who use video games show symptoms of addiction. A study involving adults from US, UK, Canada & Germany showed 86 % of young adults ages 18-24 and 65% of all adults recently played online games. They also found that 0.3 to 1 % of the general population might qualify for the diagnosis of Internet gaming disorder.

When can we say that it is an addiction? (Proposed criteria)

·     Preoccupation with gaming

·     Withdrawal symptoms when gaming is taken away or not possible(sadness, anxiety, irritability)

·     Tolerance, need to spend more time gaming to satisfy the urge

·     Inability to reduce playing, unsuccessful attempts to quit gaming

·     Giving up other activities, loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities due to gaming

·     Continuing to game despite problems

·     Deceiving family members or others about the amount of time spent on gaming

·     The use of gaming to relieve negative moods such as guilt and hopelessness

·     Risk, having jeopardized or lost a job or relationship due to gaming

Under the proposed criteria, a diagnosis of gaming disorder would require experiencing five or more of these symptoms within a year.

Risk factors:

Young males with low self-esteem and mood symptoms, with a history of unregulated gaming and a lack of real-life achievement, who seek out online gaming experiences for coping and social recognition are at more risk.

Factors predicting IGD:

·     Functional and dysfunctional impulsivity

·     Belief self-control

·     Anxiety

·     Pursuit of desired appetitive goals

·     Money spent on gaming

·     Weekday game time

·     Offline community meeting attendance

·     Game community membership


Common co-occurring disorders :

·     Depression

·     Anxiety

·     ADHD

·     OCD

Preventive measures:

·     Delaying gaming involvement.

     Restricting screen time during early developmental periods of life


·     CBT(Cognitive Behavior Therapy)

·     Harm reduction

·     Mindfulness

·     Parental psycho-education.

All addictions are difficult to treat, the same is the case with IGD.Prevention, Early identification, & Early intervention are the key aspects to be kept in mind.

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