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Internet Addiction Disorder and Gaming Disorder

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Internet Addiction Disorder and Gaming Disorder

4 min read


Internet and gaming is a type of modern addiction. Read the article to know more about them.

Medically reviewed by

Dr. Sowmiya D

Published At June 23, 2018
Reviewed AtSeptember 28, 2022

What Is Internet Addiction Disorder?

From education to entertainment, there is certainly no life area that has not been changed by the advent of the internet. It has not only made life simpler but also very fast-paced and instant. The internet has given us growth in all aspects.

At the same time, the worrying trend is how dependent it has made us for everyday things. It has consequently given rise to a new set of mental health disorders, including, but not limited to, internet addiction disorder, online gaming addiction, online shopping addiction, and online gambling addiction.

Gone are the days when the medical community would classify addiction based on an individual's dependence on a substance of abuse. Even the urge to stay online at all times is now considered an addiction. Internet addiction may involve pointless surfing of the internet, social networking, and pornography.

How Do We Get Handcuffed to the Internet and Gaming?

A person gets addicted to something if that activity is delightful to them. When an individual tries to escape reality, he gets dependent on other things. Repetitive use of the internet, social media, and games can cause psychological dependence. Continuous use of social media, pornography, and games can cause excessive secretion of dopamine. This abundant flow of dopamine in the brain is the reason for the development of dependence.

What Is the Risk?

  1. It can affect the day-to-day life and thought process of the person.

  2. It can lead to mood swings and mood instabilities.

  3. It hampers creativity and imagination.

  4. It can lead to social isolation and withdrawal.

  5. Put the person's relationship with their partner, family, and friends at risk.

  6. The person can start living a fake life.

  7. It can lead to reckless behavior and spending a lot more money than you rightfully should be.

What Is an Internet Gaming Disorder?

The increasing prevalence of digital access has caused another concern, especially among children and adolescents known as internet gaming disorder.

The condition is still under research, and its real impact is yet being studied. But, some things are certain. Addiction to online games (the primary threat being multiplayer role-play games), does cause developmental problems and affects children's development of social skills.

There have been instances of severe impairment, lack of cognitive functions, and mental distress. Despite the name being internet gaming disorder, both online and offline gaming of high frequency are equally capable of making your child a victim of this disorder. Earlier, only children were addicted to games. But now, all the age groups are known to be equally addicted to the web. Men are known to be addicted to games more than women.

What Is the Risk Involved?

  1. Depression.

  2. Poor performance in academics.

  3. Worsening of relationships with parents and peers.

  4. Aggressive behavior and violent streaks.

  5. Living in a fantasy world imagining themselves to be the online avatar they wish to portray themselves.

  6. The normal routine might get disturbed.

  7. Procrastination of important things.

  8. Sedentary lifestyle.

  9. Suicidal tendencies.

While the disorder itself is in the research stage, treatment options and success rates are still unclear. Researchers are also trying to ascertain who is most at risk and what are the types of games that are associated with maximum risk.

What Are the Diagnostic Criteria?

The criteria for both internet addiction disorder and gaming disorder are quite similar and hence have been listed together. Meeting any five of these is understood to be the criteria for diagnosis.

  1. Preoccupation with the internet or gaming, planning for the next possible opportunity to go online or play.

  2. Building tolerance, that is, a need to spend more amount of time to achieve the same level of satisfaction.

  3. Attempts at trying to curtail internet usage or stop playing online games have repeatedly failed.

  4. Withdrawal symptoms of irritability and depression when they are unable to access the internet or play the next level.

  5. Staying online at all times or playing during all free hours, giving up all other activities.

  6. Putting a job or relationship at risk due to usage of the internet or playing.

  7. Deceiving family about the actual number of hours spent online or gaming.

  8. Using the internet or gaming as a means to escape reality and elevate mood.

What Can You Do to Protect Your Kids?

As a parent, you first need to understand and realize the level of impact this has on your child and his or her future. Here are some things you can do to ensure your child or family members do not fall for this trap.

  • There is an increased need to be aware of your child's pattern of internet usage and media exposure.

  • Create opportunities for outdoor play and social interaction with peers.

  • Allow expression of creativity through hobbies and free play at home through various structured and unstructured activities.

  • Set household rules about media and gaming time and set limits. Use a stopwatch if necessary.

  • Adult supervision of content wherever recommended.

  • Schedule screen time as spaced away from bedtime as practically possible.

  • Discourage playing in the confines of a bedroom with handheld devices.

  • Ensure regular family interaction and bonding time.

  • Model appropriate usage to your kids by showing restraint and discipline. If you abuse digital platforms yourself, no amount of coaxing will deter your child.

  • If necessary, you can take help from your family physician or your child's pediatrician to educate your child about the harmful effects of overdoing screen time.

If you even have the slightest doubt that your child needs help, it is worth paying attention to your instincts and taking the next step by consulting a mental health professional at the earliest because the sooner you act, the better the outcome.

Are You an Adult Facing Internet Addiction?

As an adult, you might find it easier to take more control over your life. Here are a few ways to overcome internet addiction.

Self- Analyze:

Analyze yourselves and find out how much time you spend on the net. You might take help from a few mobile apps that help you note the time spent on the internet. If you invest time on unproductive things, you might make efforts to correct yourselves.

Social-Media Detox:

Try quitting social media for a while. You might uninstall all the apps and delete accounts. Stop receiving notifications all the time. This might distract you from useful work.


Exercise might help you feel energetic and keep you away from negative thoughts.


If you experience severe addiction that your day does not move without the internet, you should seek help from a psychologist.

Are you facing any of these symptoms? Call a doctor online.

Frequently Asked Questions


Is Gaming Addiction a Serious Disorder?

Internet or video game addiction, also known as gaming disorder or internet gaming disorder, can become very problematic, due to the compulsive use of video games. The person develops a severe urge to try different games that result in significant cognitive impairment to an individual's ability.


What Causes Gaming Disorder?

Video games and online games on the internet are designed to make a person addicted. These games are cruel enough to provide you with increased levels of dopamine. Unlimited exposure to these levels of cause structural changes to your brain.
When a person becomes addicted, they begin to live in a virtual world where they expect instant gratification. Games can be played by them for hours and hours without noticing that a minute has gone by very unproductively. Game developers are manipulative enough to design game features with in-app purchases, loot boxes, and microtransactions. Some of them may be banned by the government. These games can be a form of gambling.


How Can You Diagnose a Gaming Disorder?

For gaming disorder to be diagnosed in a patient, the behavior pattern must be noted. It should be of high severity. In severely addicted patients, there will be impairment in all aspects such as personal, professional, social, educational, or other vital areas. Experts in the field of psychology use diagnostic tests, either in the questionnaire format or through structured interviews. The Internet Gaming Disorder Scale (IGDS) serves as a diagnostic tool to measure the grade of addiction.


How Does the Who Describe Gaming Disorder?

The International Classification of Diseases (ICD) is known as the basis for the identification of health-related issues and its statistics globally. It reports the diseases and other related health conditions based on international standards. According to the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11), the diagnosis for gaming disorder can be finalized when a person depends on games over a period of a minimum of 12 months. They lack control over their own gaming habits. They begin to prioritize gaming over other activities and interests.


Why the Internet Becomes so Addictive?

Whenever an Internet addicts feel highly overwhelmed, stressed, extremely depressed, lonely or anxious, they begin to depend on the Internet to escape reality. When a person lacks emotional support, they might turn to the Internet to fulfill this need. There are also certain patients who have a history of other types of addiction, such as addictions to alcohol, drugs, sex, and gambling.


How Is the Treatment for Video Game Addicts?

Researches were made for treating video game addiction in the early stages itself. CBT or cognitive behavioral therapy is a mental health counseling therapy. This teaches you to replace thoughts about gaming and helps a person to change their behavior. The therapy also allows the addict to shift their thoughts, replacing those compulsive thoughts for gaming with healthier thinking patterns.


How Does the Internet Affect the Mental Health of a Person?

Excessive usage of the Internet might create a heightened level of psychological awakening that results in sleep, loss of appetite for long periods, and only limited physical activity. This can possibly cause physical and mental health problems such as depression, OCD, instability in family relationships and anxiety. This also causes poor self-esteem, impulsive behavior, poor sleep quality, mood instability, and suicidal thoughts.


What Are the Negative Effects of Internet Addiction?

The different negative effects of internet addiction are:
- Depression and anxiety.
- Hostility.
- Psychosis.
- Body aches.
- Insomnia.
- Vision problems.
- Social isolation.
- Impulse control problems.
- Substance use disorders, such as alcoholism or drug abuse.


Do Video Games Cause Depression to Humans?

Initially, games can be fun. But continuous video game addiction might contribute to depression and anxiety. Playing video games to cope up with anxiety may further increase the risk of addiction. Violent shooter video games really cause disturbance to the brain. Frequent players have a less gray matter, study reveals. Playing violent video games can damage the brain and may even increase the risk of Alzheimer's disease.


How Many Hours Does a Video Game Addicts Play?

Gaming addiction is a compulsive mental health condition that can cause severe damage and ill-effects. It is very common for a video game addict to spend over 10 hours of gaming per day. They might suffer from sleep deprivation.
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Dr. Vasantha. K. S
Dr. Vasantha. K. S



mental health
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