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From Pong to Pokemon Go, catching the essence of the Internet Gaming Disorder diagnosis

Commentary on: Chaos and confusion in DSM-5 diagnosis of Internet Gaming Disorder: Issues, concerns, and recommendations for clarity in the field (Kuss et al.)

Journal of Behavioral Addictions
Author:
Xavier Carbonell

Taking as a starting point, this commentary proposes some issues regarding the diagnosis of Internet Gaming Disorder discussed in Kuss et al. (2016). In our opinion, the confusion in DSM-5 diagnosis could be due to the weak starting point in building the criteria. The criteria such as functional impairment and stability of the dysfunctional behavior are considered. It is suggested that avatar identification, playing motivations, and types of video games should be considered for diagnosis. The diagnostic process is highly influenced by social context and the rapid development of video game industry. The commentary ends by considering the distinction between online and offline video gaming and the critical consideration of everyday behaviors as being addictive.

Open access

Aims

In light of the rise in research on technological addictions and smartphone addiction in particular, the aim of this paper was to review the relevant literature on the topic of smartphone addiction and determine whether this disorder exists or if it does not adequately satisfy the criteria for addiction.

Methods

We reviewed quantitative and qualitative studies on smartphone addiction and analyzed their methods and conclusions to make a determination on the suitability of the diagnosis “addiction” to excessive and problematic smartphone use.

Results

Although the majority of research in the field declares that smartphones are addictive or takes the existence of smartphone addiction as granted, we did not find sufficient support from the addiction perspective to confirm the existence of smartphone addiction at this time. The behaviors observed in the research could be better labeled as problematic or maladaptive smartphone use and their consequences do not meet the severity levels of those caused by addiction.

Discussion and conclusions

Addiction is a disorder with severe effects on physical and psychological health. A behavior may have a similar presentation as addiction in terms of excessive use, impulse control problems, and negative consequences, but that does not mean that it should be considered an addiction. We propose moving away from the addiction framework when studying technological behaviors and using other terms such as “problematic use” to describe them. We recommend that problematic technology use is to be studied in its sociocultural context with an increased focus on its compensatory functions, motivations, and gratifications.

Open access
Journal of Behavioral Addictions
Authors:
Alexandra Torres-Rodríguez
,
Mark D. Griffiths
,
Xavier Carbonell
, and
Ursula Oberst

Background and aims

Internet Gaming Disorder (IGD) has become health concern around the world, and specialized health services for the treatment of IGD are emerging. Despite the increase in such services, few studies have examined the efficacy of psychological treatments for IGD. The primary aim of this study was to assess the efficacy of a specialized psychotherapy program for adolescents with IGD [i.e., the “Programa Individualizado Psicoterapéutico para la Adicción a las Tecnologías de la Información y la Comunicación” (PIPATIC) program].

Methods

The sample comprised 31 adolescents (aged 12–18 years) from two public mental health centers who were assigned to either the (a) PIPATIC intervention experimental group or (b) standard cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) control group. The interventions were assessed at pre-, middle-, and post-treatment phases, as well as a 3-month assessment was carried out after completing the interventions.

Results

No significant differences between either group in the pre-treatment phase were found. Relating to the different interventions examined, significant differences were found at pre-test and post-test on the following variables: comorbid disorders, intrapersonal and interpersonal abilities, family relationships, and therapists’ measures. Both groups experienced a significant reduction of IGD symptoms, although the PIPATIC group experienced higher significant improvements in the remainder of the variables examined.

Discussion and conclusions

The findings suggest that PIPATIC program is effective in the treatment of IGD and its comorbid disorders/symptoms, alongside the improvement of intra- and interpersonal abilities and family relationships. However, it should also be noted that standard CBT was also effective in the treatment of IGD. Changing the focus of treatment and applying an integrative focus (including the addiction, the comorbid symptoms, intra- and interpersonal abilities, and family psychotherapy) appear to be more effective in facilitating adolescent behavior change than CBT focusing only on the IGD itself.

Open access

Background and aims

In recent years, we have witnessed a growing research interest in behavioral addictions and in pleasurable behaviors that generate a certain discomfort in the people who engage in them. The objective of this study was to assess if users of collectible card games, miniatures, and dice from the Star Wars Universe Games (SWUG) may also present criteria of addiction and if the presence of these criteria is related to demographic variables, game-playing habits, and other variables.

Methods

SWUG players were contacted through specialized gaming chats, and 218 of them completed the Internet Gaming Disorder Scale – Short Form (IGDS-SF9), a scale that assesses motivation to engage in the game (Massively Multiplayer Online Motivations Scale), the Rosenberg Self-Esteem Questionnaire, the Diener Satisfaction with Life Scale, and a question for the self-assessment of addiction.

Results

Significant predictors of addictive symptoms were the motivation to seek dissociation and (negatively) self-esteem. Users more significantly dedicate indirect hours to the game (thinking about the game, preparing material, etc.) than to actually playing. No participant could be considered pathologically addicted, as no one scored above the tentative cut-off point of the IGDS-SF9.

Discussion and conclusions

Despite the fact that many players considered themselves “addicted” and some presented various economic and family problems related to their activity, it was found that playing these games could not be equated to true addictive behavior, since no player had scores above the cut-off point. This finding contributes to current discussions about the tendency to overestimate excessive pleasurable behaviors.

Open access
Journal of Behavioral Addictions
Authors:
Alexandra Torres-Rodríguez
,
Mark D. Griffiths
,
Xavier Carbonell
, and
Ursula Oberst

Background and aims

Internet gaming disorder (IGD) has become a topic of increasing research interest since its inclusion in Section 3 of the DSM-5. Given the lack of clinical studies concerning IGD, exploring the characteristics of clinical samples with IGD will help to delineate the gaming disorder construct and inform future treatment studies.

Methods

Data collection consisted of clinical interviews comprising 31 male adolescents diagnosed with IGD. Alongside the clinical interviews, the participants were administered a battery of psychometric tests assessing the following: IGD, personality traits, comorbid symptomatology, emotional intelligence (EI), and family environment characteristics.

Results

The results showed that the adolescents with IGD and their relatives reported a high number of hours per week and high presence of stressful life events in the majority of the sample. High scores on scales assessing depression, anxiety, and somatic disorders were found. However, the findings indicate the presence of several other comorbid disorders meaning that some of the adolescent sample with IGD had different clinical profiles. Several personality traits were found to be highly associated with IGD including introversion, inhibition, submissiveness, self-devaluation, interpersonal sensibility, obsessive–compulsive tendencies, phobic anxiety, and hostility, as well as paranoid and borderline personality traits. Other negative characteristics found in the present sample included a high level of social problems, low EI, and dysfunctional family relationships.

Discussion and conclusions

The findings suggest a more global pattern of key psychological characteristics associated with Internet gaming disorder in adolescence. This may help in understanding the complexity of this proposed disorder and it may also help in designing more specialized interventions for adolescents with IGD. The findings have important implications for clinical practice and interventions.

Open access