In the latest version of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders or DSM, a new disorder called Internet Gaming Disorder (IGD) is added. Ironically, a new study shows how this probably isn’t a real condition.
Researchers from the UK and Japan gathered 2,316 participants over the age of 18, who regularly play online games. They were asked to answer a questionnaire about their lifestyle, health, and physical activity at the start of the study and after six months.
Out of all the participants, only nine of them reached five or more criteria--which is essential to diagnosis--at the start of the study. And after six months, none of them actually met the criteria! Three participants met four or more criteria throughout the whole study, but none of them felt distress over their gaming habits.
“We didn’t see a large number of people with clinical problems,” says Netta Weinstein from Cardiff University in the UK and author of the study. “The study’s results suggest that it’s not clear how many resources should go to gaming addiction, compared to other addictions like drugs.”
The researchers also found that the participants who showed some of the symptoms of IGD were unhappy in their relationships or their career. According to Weinstein, this information suggests that internet gaming could be a displacement activity for people in an unhappy situation.
Six months after the study, the symptoms of IGD were reduced in people who had become more content since the start of the study. “This is initial evidence that having more needs fulfilment in life can make people feel better about their gaming,” says Weinstein.
The debate on whether IGD is a real condition or not, however, is highlighted in the DSM, stating that IGD is a “Condition for Further Study"--it’s not an “official” disorder.
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