(HealthDay): Is it possible to become addicted to Internet games?
Telephone interviews with nearly 3,000 U.S. college students between 2007 and 2015 revealed that approximately one in 20 had “Internet gambling disorder, “a clinical condition defined by the compulsive use of electronics, both online and offline.
“As with any addiction, to be considered a disorder, gambling on the Internet must cause discomfort to daily life“, explained the study’s author, Dr. Maurice Ohayon, director of the Stanford Sleep Epidemiology Research Center at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California.
An example: “Playing [online] until late at night and then having trouble getting up in the morning to go to class or work, or just skipping classes, ”Ohayon said.
Ohayon also found that the behavior was related to a higher-than-normal risk of “feeling restless when waking up, being tired, feeling depressed, and having social anxiety.”
Does this definitely mean that gambling disorder directly causes poor mental and physical health? No, said Ohayon, who warned that not enough is known about the disorder and that “causality cannot be inferred.”
However, he and his colleague found evidence that “many elements, such as feeling depressed, social anxiety, having very few friends, being dissatisfied with social and suicidal life [thoughts]”It points to social isolation or loneliness among students with Internet gambling disorder.”
The study’s authors noted that 90% of American households are now connected to the Internet, with teens and young adults among their main users.
Beginning in the late 1990s, researchers began to study the potential drawback of Internet-intensive use. In 2013, this concern prompted the American Psychiatric Association to include Internet gambling disorder as an official diagnosis in its updated diagnostic manual.
But what exactly separates overuse of the Internet from a real addiction remains a matter of debate. “Right now,” Ohayon said, the manual has included Internet gambling disorder in the diagnostics section that needs more research “because it’s a relatively recent issue and we still have insufficient data.”
This could explain why estimates of Internet gambling disorders vary widely, with a prevalence in the United States of up to less than 1% to more than 9%.
To gain a better understanding of the real scope of the problem, the team focused on a group of students at Stanford University.
Interviews with students lasted about 75 minutes, on average. Internet gambling disorder was only diagnosed if a student reported using the Internet and / or an electronic device for at least 15 hours a week and indicated at least five ongoing behavior problems.
They include: missing or arriving late to class; feeling guilty about internet habits; loss of ambition or efficiency; behave carelessly; having trouble sleeping; jumping more and more online after feeling disputed, disappointed, or frustrated; go online to “escape” feeling worried; or lying about their habits on the Internet.
The team found that 5.3% of respondents had the disorder, with an overall risk that appears to be slightly higher, but not significant, among children.
The findings were recently published online in the journal Research in psychiatry.
A psychiatrist who did not participate in the study described the research as “an extremely well-done study and very useful for our field.”
But “as with any form of addiction, it’s important to know that not everyone who enjoys using the Internet will develop an addiction. Like the vast majority of people who drink alcohol, they won’t become alcoholics,” the doctor stressed. Petros Levounis. , chair of the psychiatry department at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School.
“But there are a significant number of people who will,” he acknowledged, though it’s not always clear why some are victims of Internet gambling disorder.
“Some children may have socialization problems that lead them to spend more time online; some may develop problems for … fault the time they spend online, “Levounis said.” But it’s not necessarily chicken or the egg. It can be both. “
Either way, having internet games Disorder means “they will always think about it,” Levounis said. “They’ll yearn to be online, spend an excessive amount of time online and maybe try to cut them down but find they’re not capable. They know it’s bad, but they just can’t stop.”
And that, he added, “can have serious consequences. Your job, your studies, your grades are starting to suffer. Your interpersonal relationships are starting to go south and you stop having other interests or hobbies.”
As for what can be done, Levounis said the interventions “are very similar” to what would be done when dealing with any type of addiction. “Except we don’t have specific drugs for that,” he noted. “Therefore, the work will largely involve cognitive behavioral therapy and counseling to help motivate the patient to change their behavior.”
There is more information about Internet gambling disorder at American Psychiatric Association.
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Citation: 1 in 20 college students has an “Internet gambling disorder,” according to a study (2021, July 7) retrieved July 7, 2021 at https://medicalxpress.com/news/2021-07-college -students-internet-gaming-disorder. html
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