According to a new study conducted on thousands of gamers over a period of six months, there may not be such thing as gaming addiction. Instead, we use gaming as a displacement for dissatisfaction in other areas of our lives.
Whilst the idea that gaming is used to help cope with the feeling of unhappiness isn’t exactly a groundbreaking concept, this study could be a landmark moment in tackling the stigma that still surrounds gaming as a whole.
Ah, who am I kidding? Those sensationalist “My Child Is Addicted To PlayStation” headlines will persist.
The study itself, conducted by Netta Weinstein at Cardiff University, tackled the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders’ definition of “Internet Gaming Disorder”. People who are diagnosed with this disorder display five or more criteria, which include lying about the amount of time they spend gaming, spending so much time gaming that it jeopardises careers and relationships, along with using gaming as a means of relieving anxiety. The regular symptoms of addiction, basically.
2316 participants over the age of 18 filled in surveys over a six month period to analyse their health, lifestyle and so on. At the start of the study, only 9 participants met the 5 or more criteria necessary, and displayed distress at the amount of gaming they took part in. However, at the end of the six month period, no-one displayed the required 5 criteria, therefore no one could be diagnosed as a gaming addict. 3 participants displayed 4 criteria throughout the study, yet expressed no distress at the amount they spent gaming.
With regards to gaming as an addiction, Netta Weinstein says: “The study’s results suggest that it’s not clear how many resources should go to gaming addiction, compared to other addictions like drugs.” Essentially, gaming addiction doesn’t appear to be as severe an issue as gambling, alcoholism and so on.
The interesting part of the study came when the team did a deeper analysis of the results, finding that those who displayed the most criteria often had lower “needs fulfilment”, meaning they were unhappy in other parts of their life. The suggestion from this is that gaming is a displacement activity for people who are unhappy.
The analysis also found that criteria for gaming addiction was reduced for those who displayed more contentment in the rest of the life over the six month period. Weinstein argues that: “This is initial evidence that having more needs fulfilment in life can make people feel better about their gaming”.
Daria Kuss, Cyber Psychology Researcher at Nottingham Trent University, doesn’t believe in the results of the study, stating that using a questionnaire to measure addiction is flawed as people tend to downplay their levels of addiction. She goes on to say this: “If someone uses gaming to meet basic psychological needs, this could become a problem if they are not able to satisfy these needs in real life. But to confirm this, we need clinical samples of people who are being treated for addiction in centres.”
If you want more information about this study, be sure to check out the original post at New Scientist, and let us know your opinions of video game addiction in the comments.
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