Internet Gaming Disorder: Is Your Child at Risk?

internet gaming disorder

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Are you spending countless hours video gaming in front of your computer screen, completely absorbed in online gaming? Do you find it difficult to tear yourself away from virtual worlds and return to reality? If so, you may be experiencing Internet Gaming Disorder, a condition that is increasingly recognized as a serious problem in today’s digital age. The addictive nature of gaming and the easy accessibility of online platforms have contributed to the rise of this disorder, affecting individuals of all ages.

While online gaming can provide entertainment, relaxation, and a sense of accomplishment, it can also have detrimental effects on one’s physical and mental well-being. video game addiction can lead to neglecting important responsibilities in real life, such as work, school, and relationships, and can even result in physical health issues in daily life due to a sedentary lifestyle as a result of excessive gaming. As the prevalence of Internet Gaming Disorder continues to grow, it is crucial to understand its causes, symptoms, and potential treatments to prevent and address this harmful behaviour.

What You Will Know!
In this article, I will explain to you the concept of Internet Gaming Disorder, its impact on individuals and society, and the treatment options available for those struggling with this addictive behaviour. By shedding light on this emerging problem, I hope to raise awareness regarding this risk factor and provide guidance to individuals who may be affected by this mental disorder, as well as to their families and loved ones.

What Does Internet Gaming Disorder Mean?

Internet Gaming Disorder (IGD) is a mental health condition characterized by excessive and uncontrollable gaming behaviour. People with IGD may feel the need to play games for long periods, even when it interferes with their work, school, relationships, or other important areas of their lives. They may also experience withdrawal symptoms when they try to stop gaming, such as anxiety, irritability, and depression.

IGD is a relatively new diagnosis, and there is still much that we don’t know about it. However, it is believed to be caused by a combination of factors, including genetics, personality traits, and environmental factors such as stress or trauma.

Prevalence of Internet Gaming Disorder

The prevalence of video game addiction is estimated to be between 1% and 3% of the general population. However, the prevalence may be higher in certain groups, such as young people, males, and people with other mental health conditions.

Symptoms and Diagnostic Criteria

The diagnostic criteria for IGD are as follows:

  • Persistent and recurrent gaming behaviour takes precedence over other life interests and daily activities.
  • The gaming behaviour is excessive, as indicated by either:
    • Playing for more than 12 hours per week for adolescents or more than 20 hours per week for adults.
    • Gaming to the extent that it causes significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational, or other important areas of functioning.
  • The gaming behaviour is not attributable to another mental disorder, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or a substance use disorder.

Types of Video Games Associated with Internet Gaming Disorder

Online Role-Playing Games

Online role-playing games (RPGs): These games allow players to create a character and explore a virtual world. They often have complex storylines and require players to spend a lot of time levelling up their characters and completing quests. This can be especially appealing to people who are looking for a sense of purpose or accomplishment in their lives. The immersive nature of these games can also make it difficult for players to detach from them, even when they need to focus on other obligations.

Massively Multiplayer Online Games (MMOGs)

Massively multiplayer online games (MMOGs): These games are even larger than RPGs and allow players to interact with each other in real time. They often have competitive elements, which can make them more addictive. The social aspect of these games can be a major draw for people who are lonely or isolated. The ability to connect with other people and form relationships can be very rewarding, and it can be hard to give up that connection, even when it’s starting to have negative consequences.

Other Video Game Genres

First-person shooters (FPS): These games involve shooting enemies and completing objectives. They can be very stimulating and rewarding, which can make them addictive. The fast-paced action and adrenaline rush of these games can be very appealing to people who are seeking excitement or a way to relieve stress.

Real-time strategy (RTS) games: These games involve building bases, managing resources, and fighting battles. They can be very complex and require a lot of attention, which can make them addictive. The challenge of these games can be very appealing to people who are competitive or who enjoy problem-solving.

Gambling games: These games involve betting money on the outcome of events. They can be very addictive, especially for people who are prone to gambling addiction. The thrill of winning money can be very intoxicating, and it can be hard to stop playing even when you’re losing.

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Theories on the Causes of Internet Gaming Disorder

Griffiths MD Theory on Behavioral Addiction

This theory is based on the idea that addiction is a problem with the brain’s reward system. When people engage in addictive behaviours, such as gaming, they release dopamine, a neurotransmitter that is associated with pleasure and reward. Over time, the brain becomes accustomed to this high level of dopamine, and it takes more and more gaming to get the same level of satisfaction. This can lead to compulsive gaming and other addictive behaviours.

Griffiths argues that IGD shares many features with other behavioural addictions, such as gambling addiction and substance abuse. These features include:

  • A loss of control over gaming behaviour: People with IGD may find it difficult to stop gaming, even when they want to. They may also lie about how much time they spend gaming, or they may neglect their other responsibilities to game.
  • A preoccupation with gaming: People with IGD may think about gaming all the time, even when they are not playing. They may also have difficulty concentrating on anything else, and they may be irritable or restless when they are not gaming.
  • Withdrawal symptoms when gaming is stopped: People with IGD may experience withdrawal symptoms when they stop gaming, such as anxiety, depression, and irritability. These symptoms can be so severe that they make it difficult to quit gaming.
  • Tolerance: People with IGD may need to play more and more games to get the same level of satisfaction. This is because their brain becomes accustomed to the high level of dopamine that is released when they game.
  • A negative impact on other areas of life: People with IGD may experience negative consequences in other areas of their lives, such as their work, school, relationships, and health. They may miss work or school, neglect their relationships, or experience health problems due to lack of sleep or exercise.

Pontes HM Theory on Cognitive Escapism and Social Interaction Needs in Problematic Gaming

This theory suggests that IGD can be a way for people to escape from negative emotions or experiences. Pontes argues that people who are addicted to gaming may be using it to cope with stress, anxiety, or depression. They may also be using it to meet their social interaction needs if they feel lonely or isolated.

Pontes’ theory is supported by research that has shown that people with IGD are more likely to experience negative emotions, such as depression and anxiety. They are also more likely to have social problems, such as loneliness and isolation.

Billieux J Theory on Impaired Control Over Gaming Activities

This theory suggests that IGD is caused by an impaired ability to control gaming behaviour. Billieux argues that people with IGD may have difficulty setting limits on their gaming time, or they may find it difficult to stop playing even when they want to. This impaired control may be due to a combination of factors, such as genetics, personality traits, and environmental factors.

Billieux’s theory is supported by research that has shown that people with IGD have different brain activity patterns than people who do not have IGD. These differences suggest that people with IGD may have difficulty controlling their impulses and regulating their emotions.

The Effects of Internet Gaming Addiction

Loss of Control Over Daily Activities and Time Spent Playing Video Games

People with IGD may lose control over their daily activities and time spent playing video games. They may neglect their work, school, or other responsibilities to game. They may also lie about how much time they spend gaming, or they may sneak off to games when they are not supposed to.

Withdrawal Symptoms After Unsuccessful Attempts to Cut Down or Stop Gaming Activity

People with IGD may experience withdrawal symptoms after they try to cut down or stop gaming. These symptoms can include anxiety, depression, irritability, restlessness, and difficulty concentrating. They may also have physical symptoms, such as headaches, stomachaches, and fatigue.

Other Effects of Internet Addiction Disorder

  • Problems at work or school: People with IGD may miss work or school, or they may suffer low academic performance because they are thinking about gaming or are tired from staying up late gaming.
  • Relationship problems: People with IGD may neglect their relationships with family and friends because they are spending so much time gaming. They may also argue with their loved ones about their gaming habits.
  • Health problems: People with IGD may experience health problems due to lack of sleep, exercise, or poor diet. They may also develop problems with their vision or hearing due to excessive screen time.
  • Financial problems: People with IGD may spend a lot of money on gaming, such as buying new games, in-game items, or gaming equipment. They may also neglect their other financial responsibilities, such as paying bills or rent.

Treatments for Internet Gaming Disorder

There is no one-size-fits-all treatment for Internet Gaming Disorder (IGD), but there are several effective treatments available. These include:

  • Cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT): CBT is a type of therapy that helps people to identify and change the unhealthy thoughts and behaviours that contribute to their addiction.
  • Family therapy: Family therapy can help to improve communication and understanding between the person with IGD and their family members.
  • 12-step programs: 12-step programs, such as GamAnon, can provide support and guidance to people with IGD and their families.
  • Medication: There is no medication specifically approved for the treatment of IGD, but some medications that are used to treat other conditions, such as depression or anxiety, may be helpful in some cases.

The best treatment for IGD will vary depending on the individual’s specific needs and circumstances. It is important to seek professional help to find the right treatment plan.

Here are some additional tips for managing IGD:

  • Set limits on your gaming time. This could mean setting a timer for a certain amount of time each day or only playing video games on certain days of the week.
  • Take breaks from gaming throughout the day. Get up and move around every 20-30 minutes to avoid getting too engrossed in the game.
  • Get involved in other activities, such as sports, hobbies, or spending time with friends and family. This will help you to stay balanced and avoid becoming too dependent on video games.
  • If you are finding yourself in a loss of control and spending more and more time gaming, or if your gaming is causing problems in your life, talk to a mental health professional. They can help you to understand your gaming habits and develop strategies for managing them.

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