Research and Studies


A weak scientific basis for gaming disorder: Let us err on the side of caution (2018) - In this paper, published in the Journal of Behavioral Addictions, 36 scholars, researchers, and clinicians describe the weak scientific basis for creating a "gaming disorder" diagnosis.  They argue that a higher standard of evidence should be required, and warn the WHO against trivialization mental health diagnoses by proceeding on weak evidence.

"Given the gravity of diagnostic classification and its wider societal impact, we urge our colleagues at the WHO to err on the side of caution for now and postpone the formalization." 

APA Media Psychology and Technology Division 46 Policy Statement Expressing Concern Regarding the Plan to Include Gaming Disorder in the ICD-11 (2018) - Division 46 is the Media Psychology and Technology unit of the APA.  In this policy statement, the authors point out that the WHO's attempt at classifying "gaming disorder" is built on weak evidence, and is likely a product of moral panic instead of good science. They also caution the WHO that an incomplete or hasty diagnosis can cause significant harm by distracting treatment professionals from the real causes of concern.

 “The Division is opposed to these new disorders…the potential for unintended negative consequences is significant."

What’s the Problem in Problem Gaming? (2018)– As the authors note, this collection of essays provide “a valuable contribution to the debates about young people’s gaming habits and the highly contested concept of video game addiction. The chapters in the volume provide a number of perspectives on the issue, such as players’ life conditions and lifestyle choices, problem gaming from a family perspective, the voices of treatment professionals, and how game design can become problematic.” 

Scholars’ open debate paper on the World Health Organization ICD-11 Gaming Disorder proposal (2017) - In this debate paper, scholars show that the WHO's classification of "Gaming Disorder" is too hasty, and does not rely upon sound science.  In particular, scholars have concerns about the quality of the research base, and comparisons of video games to drugs and alcohol.  Finally, they warn that formalizing the disorder will create opportunities for misdiagnoses, and even moral panics.

 “The act of formalizing this disorder, even as a proposal, has negative medical, scientific, public-health, societal, and human rights fallout that should be considered."

UNICEF's State of the World's Children Report - Children in a Digital World (2017) - In this comprehensive report, UNICEF examines the role of digital technology in the lives of children across the world.  While they acknowledge that that internet and connected devices can present some dangers to children, the report clearly lays out the lack of evidence for "addiction" when it comes to screen usage or media.

“In fact, there is very little evidence demonstrating that any significant number of children and adolescents are so dependent on their devices that they experience severe impairment in a major area of life – the definition of addiction – or are at risk of significant and snowballing health risks as a result."

Longitudinal patterns of problematic computer game use among adolescents and adults—a 2‐year panel study (2014) - In this paper, the authors tracked the video game playing of 902 individuals over 2 years.  The conclusion shows that so-called "problematic use of video games" is not a stable behavior (in other words, it doesn't persist over time), and so is not a reliable indicator of negative changes in gamers lives.

"Within a 2‐year time‐frame, problematic use of computer games appears to be a less stable behaviour than reported previously and not related systematically to negative changes in the gamers' lives."

A prospective study of the motivational and health dynamics of Internet Gaming Disorder (2017) - The authors of this study found that despite their hypothesis, there is no evidence linking Internet Gaming Disorder to health over time. In fact, they state, “these unexpected results do not support a theoretical framing of Internet Gaming Disorder as a chronic psychiatric condition akin to substance abuse disorder as some have argued…”