Is internet gaming really a disorder?

We all suspected that something was wrong when we saw kids (and even adults) spending endless hours on gaming consoles, screens or mobile phones.

Yesterday I heard this shocking news: Video game addict teenager ends life after mother takes away mobile phone in Nagpur –

Well, there is something terribly wrong. And the medical community has just realised the deadly problem.

For the first time in 10 years, the World Health Organization has released a new edition of its International Classification of Diseases in July 2018. ICD-11 is the first to be fully electronic, and it has 55,000 codes compared with the 14,400 in ICD-10.
There’s a new chapter on traditional medicine as well as a new chapter on sexual
health. The diagnosis known as “gender incongruence” was moved from the mental
health category into the new sexual health chapter as a way of destigmatizing this
Another change is the new diagnosis “gaming disorder.” It comes under the umbrella of addictive disorders. It’s defined as impaired control over digital or video gaming for at least a year, leading to adverse effects on personal health and overall function, [where] gaming takes priority over usual activities, like sleeping, eating, working, or socializing.

The WHO includes the following criteria for gaming disorder in the ICD-11

• impaired control over gaming;
• gaming taking precedence over other interests and daily activities;
• the continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative
• gaming being severe enough to result in significant impairment in personal,
family, social, educational, occupational, or other important areas of functioning; and
• evidence of problem behaviors of at least 12 months’ duration.
On this last point, there is “flexibility, given clinical data that suggest that this may occur more rapidly in some individuals.

Potenza argued that problematic gaming has a biological basis. He referred to brain
imaging data indicating that problematic gaming is associated with decreases in resting state functional connectivity in executive control networks and is linked to negative cognitive control performance on the Stroop Task.
Other studies have shown that a craving behavioral intervention not only decreased
Internet addiction scores and gaming times but also increased cue-induced insula
activation and decreased connectivity between the insula and some brain regions, such as the precuneus, that have been implicated in cravings.
Potenza and colleagues consequently proposed a theoretical model of Internet gaming disorder in which specific targets share similarities with those for substance use disorders and behavioral addictions, such as pathologic gambling.

Therefore, Weinstein turned to the criteria for the diagnosis of behavioral addiction set
out by Mark B. Griffiths, PhD, and colleagues, which focus on the following:
• Salience,
• Mood modification,
• Tolerance,
• Withdrawal,
• Adverse consequences, and
• Repeated attempts to quit, followed by relapse.
He said that salience means that the activity becomes the most important activity in
their life and dominates their thinking, feelings, and behavior.
Similarly, mood modification, which is the subjective experience that people report as a result of engaging in the activity, is seen with both disorders. Problem Internet users say that they feel aroused or enter into a “flow” whereby they lose a sense of time and place,
Tolerance, in which greater exposure is required to achieve the same effect, is also
found in both conditions, as is withdrawal. In Internet gaming disorder, withdrawal
includes anger, tension, and/or depression;
Weinstein said that, on the basis of brain imaging studies, the neural mechanisms that
underlie Internet gaming disorder appear similar to those seen in drug addiction.
These include structural changes related to gray matter volume in regions linked to
attention, motor coordination, executive function, and perception.
Internet gaming disorder is associated with lower white matter density in brain regions
linked to decision making, behavioral inhibition, and emotional regulation, as well as alterations in the ventral striatum. Video game playing is associated with dopamine
release at levels similar to those seen in drug abuse.
Internet gaming disorder is associated with depression, anxiety, attention-deficit
hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and alcohol use, as well as personality disorders in
Science, Medical science does not have any answers, any solutions.
The best that they can come up with are some medicines.
What we feared has come true. Our kids are hopelessly addicted.

A recent study (November 2018) of over 40000 kids showed the effects of mobile use.

Children’s psychological well-being starts to deteriorate after an average 1 hour of screen viewing per day, according to a study of more than 40,000 children aged 2 to 1 years.
More hours of screen time are associated with lower well-being in ages 2 to 17.
High users show less curiosity, self-control, and emotional stability
more distractibility,
more difficulty making friends,
and being more difficult to care for.

The word of God calls this addiction by another name, idolatry. When we turn to a created thing to give us something that only the living triune God can give us, it invariably destroys us.

Image result for idolatry

Yes, we want our idols to be removed, but we need to replace them with the real thing! Whatever we seek for in these games at our on the screen, seem to deliver it for some time but the price we end up paying is beyond imagination.

The only answer, I believe, is accepting the unconditional love of God, who in Christ the sinless man, died for the sin and shame of our sin., with the power of the Holy Spirit.

When God is on the throne of our hearts, all other things take their rightful place. The mobile and the internet can become powerful tools for achieving our God given potential and purpose, when we know where to keep them. All these inventions and things are great tools and slaves for us, but the moment they become our master, they will destroy us.

God bless.

Published by Dr. S. P. Mathew

A Mumbai-based practising Physician, passionate about God's wonderful creation, fitness, and integral health, writer, activist and family man. Saved by God's Grace alone :-) to be his Ambassador.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: