Extent of the Problem
As many as .2% of all teenagers in Germany to 50% of all teenagers in Korea have been reported to be Internet gaming addicts (Kuss 2013). To some countries especially those in South-East Asia, the government has taken special care to address this serious problem. In South Korea, 24% of the children who are diagnosed with Internet addiction are hospitalized (Kuss 2013). Japan has taken similarly extreme measures by starting the development of “fasting camps” that cut off their patients from technology (Kuss 2013).
The concern of these groups centers around data from numerous studies that point to the negative consequences that Internet gaming addiction can have. Below is a list of the most popular concerns (Kuss 2013):
Sacrificing Real-Life Relationships
Aggression and Hostility
Lack of attention
Motivations for Addiction
Some of the gaming motivations most commonly found to be associated with gaming addiction were (Kuss 2013):
Coping and Escaping Daily Stresses
Building Online Relationships
Developmental Stages of Addiction
According to the biopsychosocial developmental theory of addiction, Internet gaming addiction develops no differently from other addictions. The behavior first becomes something salient to the individual (Kuss 2013). Then the individual uses the behavior to modify their own mood such as using gaming to escape the pressures of work or to feel great (Kuss 2013). Then a tolerance to gaming develops to the point at which gamers must spend greater amounts of time to feel the same mood effect (Kuss 2013). Following this tolerance, gamers may try to discontinue their behavior but will develop withdrawal symptoms (Kuss 2013). The continuation of behavior at this point in the addiction may lead to interpersonal and intra-personal conflict (Kuss 2013). Lastly, individuals who have tried to quit may experience relapses (Kuss 2013).
Context of Gaming
Using evidence from two case studies, Kuss shows the importance of context in diagnosing and characterizing gaming . Both case studies involve men that spent on average 14 hours a day playing MMORPG’s such as World of Warcraft (Kuss 2013).
The first Man named “Dave” was aged 21, unemployed and single. He self reported that gaming positively influenced his life by providing an online social life, boosting his self -esteem , and giving structure to his day (Kuss 2013). Dave’s extensive gaming did not lead to distress or have a negative impact on his life. In this particular instance, his behavior cannot be classified as a condition that would meet the requirements of the DSM-5 classification of mental disorder (Kuss 2013). On follow up, when Dave found a new job and entered into a relationship with someone he met through the game, the amount of gaming that he engaged in decreased significantly (Kuss 2013).
The second individual from the case study reported on a 38 year old accountant named “Jeremy”. Jeremy was married with two children at the time and due to his gaming, faced a relationship breakdown, lack of time for family activities and a loss of his job (Kuss 2013). Compounding these negative life events were increased craving for the game, playing time, and feelings of low mood and anxiety (Kuss 2013). In this instance, gaming was used as an escape from real life problems and although he tried to quit gaming on multiple occasions he was ultimately unsuccessful (Kuss 2013).
These two case studies show how the same excessive gaming behaviour may have different levels of consequences depending an individuals own context. It’s not simply just the number of hours played.
Kuss, D. J. (2013). Internet gaming addiction: current perspectives. Psychol Res Behav Manag, 6, 125-137. doi: 10.2147/PRBM.S39476