Regulation of gaming is largely based on the perception of gaming-related harm. This perception varies from one country to another and does not necessarily correspond to the real gaming-related harm. It is argued that there is a crucial need to define and assess domains of this harm in order to introduce policies that regulate gaming. Such policies would ideally be targeted at individuals at risk for problematic gaming and would be based more on educational efforts than on restrictive measures. The role of gaming industry in the regulation of gaming would depend on the more precise estimates of gaming-related harm.
Binge-watching (i.e., seeing multiple episodes of the same TV series in a row) now constitutes a widespread phenomenon. However, little is known about the psychological factors underlying this behavior, as reflected by the paucity of available studies, most merely focusing on its potential harmfulness by applying the classic criteria used for other addictive disorders without exploring the uniqueness of binge-watching. This study thus aimed to take the opposite approach as a first step toward a genuine understanding of binge-watching behaviors through a qualitative analysis of the phenomenological characteristics of TV series watching.
A focus group of regular TV series viewers (N = 7) was established to explore a wide range of aspects related to TV series watching (e.g., motives, viewing practices, and related behaviors).
A content analysis identified binge-watching features across three dimensions: TV series watching motivations, TV series watching engagement, and structural characteristics of TV shows. Most participants acknowledged that TV series watching can become addictive, but they all agreed having trouble recognizing themselves as truly being an “addict.” Although obvious connections could be established with substance addiction criteria and symptoms, such parallelism appeared to be insufficient, as several distinctive facets emerged (e.g., positive view, transient overinvolvement, context dependency, and low everyday life impact).
Discussion and conclusion
The research should go beyond the classic biomedical and psychological models of addictive behaviors to account for binge-watching in order to explore its specificities and generate the first steps toward an adequate theoretical rationale for these emerging problematic behaviors.
The aim of this study was to identify problematic gaming behavior among Finnish adolescents and young adults, and evaluate its connection to a variety of psychological, social, and physical health symptoms.
This cross-sectional study was conducted with a random sample of 293 respondents aged from 13 to 24 years. Participants completed an online survey. Problematic gaming behavior was measured with the Game Addiction Scale (GAS). Self-reports covered health measures such as psychological health (psychopathological symptoms, satisfaction with life), social health (preferences for social interaction), and physical health (general health, Body Mass Index [BMI], body discomfort, physical activity).
Problematic gaming behavior was found to relate to psychological and health problems, namely fatigue, sleep interference, depression and anxiety symptoms. Multiple linear regression indicated that the amount of weekly gaming, depression and a preference for online social interaction predicted increased problematic gaming symptoms.
This research emphasized that problematic gaming behavior had a strong negative correlation to a variety of subjective health outcomes.
Behavioral addiction research has been particularly flourishing over the last two decades. However, recent publications have suggested that nearly all daily life activities might lead to a genuine addiction.
Methods and aim
In this article, we discuss how the use of atheoretical and confirmatory research approaches may result in the identification of an unlimited list of “new” behavioral addictions.
Both methodological and theoretical shortcomings of these studies were discussed.
We suggested that studies overpathologizing daily life activities are likely to prompt a dismissive appraisal of behavioral addiction research. Consequently, we proposed several roadmaps for future research in the field, centrally highlighting the need for longer tenable behavioral addiction research that shifts from a mere criteria-based approach toward an approach focusing on the psychological processes involved.
Critics of gaming disorder (GD; i.e., Internet gaming disorder in the DSM-5; Gaming disorder in the ICD-11) have expressed concerns about the potential risks of misclassification (e.g., false positives). An important consideration of relevance to this discussion is the extent to which commonly used screening instruments contain appropriate, sensible, and relevant items. The aim of this review was to evaluate the face validity of items within current tools for GD.
A systematic review of databases identified 29 instruments. An item bank (n = 417 items) was independently evaluated by three professional raters (i.e., a senior academic in clinical psychology, a senior psychometrician, and an academic/clinical psychologist) according to guidelines for defining and measuring addiction and gaming disorder.
Evaluation of the item bank identified issues related to: scope (i.e., “scope creep” or items of questionable relevance); language (i.e., confusing language, unusual wording or syntax); and overpathologizing (i.e., pathologizing typical and/or beneficial aspects or consequences of gaming). A total of 71 items across 23 tools had at least one face validity issue.
Most items (83%) demonstrated satisfactory face validity and were consistent with either the DSM-5 or ICD-11 GD classification. However, many tests contain at least one item that may pathologize normal gaming behaviors. Such items refer to basic changes in mood when gaming, a desire to play or continue playing games, and experiencing immersion when gaming. This analysis highlights the challenges of screening for problematic behaviors that are thought to arise within the context of normal recreational activities.
Binge-watching (i.e., watching multiple episodes of a TV series in one session) has recently become standard practice among TV series viewers; this expansion generates concerns regarding the potential negative outcomes associated with this habit. However, the investigation of its psychological correlates remains fragmentary, with few initial studies a priori conceptualizing this behavior as a new addictive disorder. This study explored these psychological correlates using cluster analysis of binge-watching behavior based on three key psychological factors: motivations, impulsivity, and emotional reactivity.
An online survey was completed by 4,039 TV series viewers. Data were analyzed using hierarchical and non-hierarchical cluster analyses, the validity of the clusters being finally determined through mutual comparisons with a selection of external correlates.
Four clusters were identified: recreational TV series viewers (presenting low involvement in binge-watching), regulated binge-watchers (moderately involved), avid binge-watchers (presenting elevated but non-problematic involvement), and unregulated binge-watchers (presenting potentially problematic involvement associated with negative outcomes).
Discussion and conclusions
This study underlines the heterogeneous and multidetermined nature of binge-watching. Our findings suggest that high engagement in binge-watching is distinct from problematic binge-watching, thus reinforcing the notion that conceptualizing binge-watching as an addictive disorder is of low relevance and might actually lead to the overpathologization of this highly popular leisure activity.
Blaszczynski and Nower (2002) conceptualized their Pathways Model by postulating the existence of three subtypes of problem gamblers who share common characteristics, but also present specific ones.
This study investigated how the psychological mechanisms postulated in the Pathways Model predict clinical status in a sample that combined treatment-seeking gamblers (n = 59) and non-problematic community gamblers (n = 107). To test the Pathways Model, we computed a hierarchic logistic regression in which variables associated with each postulated pathway were entered sequentially to predict the status of the treatment-seeking gambler. Self-report questionnaires measured gambling-related cognitions, alexithymia, emotional reactivity, emotion regulation strategies and impulsivity. Behavioural tasks measured gambling persistence (slot machine task), decision-making under uncertainty (Iowa Gambling Task) and decision-making under risk (Game of Dice Task).
We showed that specific factors theorized as underlying mechanisms for each pathway predicted the status of clinical gambler. For each pathway, significant predictors included gambling-related cognitive distortions and behaviourally measured gambling persistence (behaviourally conditioned pathway), emotional reactivity and emotion regulation strategies (emotionally vulnerable pathway), and lack of premeditation impulsivity facet (impulsivist-antisocial pathway).
Discussion and conclusions
Our study adds to the body of literature confirming the validity of the Pathways Model and hold important implications in terms of assessment and treatment of problem gambling. In particular, a standardized assessment based on the Pathways Model should promote individualized treatment strategies to allow clinicians to take into account the high heterogeneity that characterizes gambling disorder.
Problematic smartphone use (PSU) has been described as a growing public health issue. In the current study, we aimed to provide a unique and comprehensive test of the pathway model of PSU. This model posits three distinct developmental pathways leading to PSU: (1) the excessive reassurance pathway, (2) the impulsive pathway and (3) the extraversion pathway.
Undergraduate students (n = 795, 69.8% female, mean age = 23.80 years, sd = 3.02) completed online self-report measures of PSU (addictive use, antisocial use and dangerous use) and the psychological features (personality traits and psychopathological symptoms) underlying the three pathways.
Bayesian analyses revealed that addictive use is mainly driven by the excessive reassurance pathway and the impulsive pathway, for which candidate etiopathological factors include heightened negative urgency, a hyperactive behavioural inhibition system and symptoms of social anxiety. Dangerous and antisocial use are mainly driven by the impulsive pathway and the extraversion pathway, for which candidate etiopathological factors include specific impulsivity components (lack of premeditation and sensation seeking) and primary psychopathy (inclination to lie, lack of remorse, callousness and manipulativeness).
Discussion and conclusions
The present study constitutes the first comprehensive test of the pathway model of PSU. We provide robust and original results regarding the psychological dimensions associated with each of the postulated pathways of PSU, which should be taken into account when considering regulation of smartphone use or tailoring prevention protocols to reduce problematic usage patterns.
While applying a diagnostic approach (i.e., comparing “clinical” cases with “healthy” controls) is part of our methodological habits as researchers and clinicians, this approach has been particularly criticized in the behavioral addictions research field, in which a lot of studies are conducted on “emerging” conditions. Here we exemplify the pitfalls of using a cut-off-based approach in the context of binge-watching (i.e., watching multiple episodes of series back-to-back) by demonstrating that no reliable cut-off scores could be determined with a widely used assessment instrument measuring binge-watching.
In April 2018, the servers of the popular video game “Fortnite” crashed for 24 hr. During this period, Pornhub (a popular pornographic website) analyzed trends in pornography access, finding that: (a) the percentage of gamers accessing Pornhub increased by 10% and (b) the searches of pornographic videos using the key term “Fortnite” increased by 60%. In this letter, we discuss these observations in the context of ongoing debate regarding the validity of “withdrawal” when applied to problematic involvement in video gaming and the potential use of pornography as a “compensation behavior” during the periods of “forced abstinence” from gaming.