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ENCEPHALOS 51, 10-14, 2014

INTERNET GAMING ADDICTION. REASONS, DIAGNOSIS,
PREVENTION AND TREATMENT
ARGIRIS V. KARAPETSAS*, VASILIOS A. KARAPETSAS**, NIKOS X. ZYGOURIS***, APOSTOLOS
I. FOTIS****

Abstract The current study by the Neuropsychology Lab of
the University of Thessaly attempts at studying a
We define electronic games addiction as group of online gaming addicts as well as at find-
the excessive and morbid use of electronic games ing ways to detect and treat the addiction. Our pre-
(especially those taking advantage of social net- sentation’s further aim is the collection of data and
working to become accessible to many users). In the creation of rehabilitation programs in the long
cases of addiction, this excessive use tends to run.
interfere with everyday reality and to significantly
influence it. Researches on the excessive use of Key Words: Online gaming, students.
internet structures and the problems it causes
appeared as early as the 1989 (Shatton, 1989). Introduction
The rapid development of the computer science . An electronic game is a game that
and the improvement of the computer-user inter- employs electronics to create an interactive sys-
action can fully justify both the massiveness of the tem with which a player can play. The electronic
problem as well as the plethora of researches on device employed can be a computer, a gaming
the issue. device or a mobile phone. Most users nowadays
Roles Video games with an international (thanks opt for online gaming while most gaming devices
to modern technology) appeal tend to be consid- provide direct internet access, a prerequisite for
ered as the most addictive ones. This games cat- the extremely popular roles games.
egory includes the creation of a virtual world in It has been claimed that they can serve as a
which each user is represented through a charac- means to obtain knowledge and offer children a
ter that acts on a personal or group basis. Such means of dialogue in an era of isolation. (Gioutani
online games are of extreme popularity. According & Kougiouti, 2006). On the other hand, many
to the latest (2012) report by an entertainment opposing views claim that modern online games
software company, a 72% of American households can cause addiction which in turn leads to depres-
with an internet connection have at least a mem- sion, isolation and dependency.(Haagsima, 2008).
ber participating in online gaming. Such high rates Current research highlights the problem as
tend to raise concerns given the fact that online well as the immense number of online gaming
games are scientifically proven to cause among addicts. ( Lemmens, Valkenburg & Peter, 2009).
others: psychomotor disorders, desensitization of The notion of online gaming addiction is not how-
emotions, addictive coercive behavior, personality ever completely new. (Keepers, 1990) The
changes, depersonalization of the user, learning omnipresence of computers providing access to
difficulties, and anti-social behavior. online gaming platforms however, tend to increase
the problem. Online roles games are considered
as the most addictive as they can entertain numer-
*Professor of Neuropsychology-Neurolinguistics, University ous players simultaneously (Council on Science
of Thessaly
**Undergraduate Student Department of Communication
and Public Health). In this type of games users can
Systems and Networks, Technological Educational Instirute formulate the character that represents them
of Messolonghi throughout the game, rather than choosing among
***Ph. D Clinic Neuropsychology, University of Thessaly a number of pre-formulated characters created by
****Ph. D Candidate University Of Thessaly the game’s inspirer. Second life is a good repre-

. 2006). Carbonell relationships can usually lead to constant occupa- & Griffiths. The fact is supporting by a 2010 tion with online gaming ( Alison. J. 48 million players users to overestimate the value of this visual world were reported on April 2008 many of them admit. the goals set by the game designers. E. the view that excessive online gam. provoke a feeling of tedium and meaninglessness. features of the addicts group. stantly try to improve their success rates and to ing is detrimental for ages below 18 being having add more advantages to their virtual character. Williams & Yee. with extremely negative conse- by Brand. Game users will con- younger ages. years old ). this not being the case in the real world. Borchard and Holmes (2009) while a quences ( Kim. The lack of a goal to be reached may activities (Yee. self-control can trap children into constant preoc- In the initial research of online gaming cupation with their computer with a negative addiction by Shatton (Shatton. get families make children prefer virtual gaming off deadlines and consider online gaming as a pri- worlds ( Caplan. (Hussain & Griffiths. Children that they are studying employees lie to employers thus opt for the virtual world instead of the real one that they are working and friends seek for excuses (Jeong & Kim 2011). In such cases the child’s real-life required to cover their gaming need. ority for their lives (Keepers. percentage of 8% of the participants were over 55 2008). The average participants’ The line between real and virtual can thus become age has been recorded to 29 years old in Australia extremely blurry. 1990). 2009). 2010). dents to devote more and more hours to it sional players. 10-14. (Voig. Inc. In fact. Lee & Huang . As for the online Online gaming constitutes a way to escape from gaming frequency. we first ought to locate the reasons possibility can easily trap young users with a lack causing this addiction.ENCEPHALOS 51. The aggressiveness of our gaming rates were significally higher than the modern era both n school and society can urge rates of addiction to game with no online commu- children to the creation of virtual world in which nication possibility( Thomas & Martin. 2009). S. 1989) a sample of impact on their real life. J. the user can be sure that every. they seek for tranquility. already been formed. 2014 11 sentative of the category. 2013). To locate the phenomenon of online gam- were violence and tension mostly occurs in an ing addiction we first have to locate the distinctive appointed environment. 2008). Students lie to parents increased self-esteem within the game. a 22% were daily players. urging stu- 35% would “usually play” while the rest were occa. Namkoong & Kim. With narcissism being a boys over 18 was studied (average age = 29. The fact that the game In that case. anyone can communicate with anyone whenever they Aiming at fighting against online gaming wish and on whatever issue. Even in the case of violent or intense games. ting that: “Second Life isn’t merely a game but a The teenager’s character is not stable. (Chiu. a the numerous problems of daily reality. 2004). The reasons of online gaming addiction Addict behavior is also characterized by a can also be found among social issues like vio. Shockley research findings were youth addiction to online & Gabbard . and 41% of them were women. Constant preoccu- version of our epoch which must be attributed to pation with the idea of online action is the first sign both the isolation and alienation of people and of addiction. . com- munication among users provided through interac- Reasons of online gaming addiction tive gaming interfaces can act as a catalyst towards online gaming addiction. This communication addiction. tendency to hide the excessive internet use lence in all forms.. What is more. A vicious cir- decreased self-esteem is replaced by the cle of insincerity is created. Consecutive researches focused on things can get even worse. Online gaming addiction location thing will disappear as soon as they log off their computer. These people may neglect duties. Wahlde. A problem in interpersonal of interpersonal relationships ( Beranuy. 2006). Tediousness may also urge to isolate themselves in front of a computer screen children towards the scourge of the online gaming and become alienated from previously interesting addiction. can cause addiction can be proven by the combined with beautiful graphics and music tempt immense number of players. The solitariness and intro. The lack of real second life”.7 distinctive feature of the teenager’s character.

academic Meredith. 2010).12 ENCEPHALOS 51. anxiety or the easier it becomes to provoke user addiction. addiction tion on a daily basis? 2) Do you occupy yourself with the online game for Prevention is the best solution against extensive time spans? (typically 3-4 hours of occu. 2009). Young users should also be Simple indications are not enough to urged to relax their eyes after every 20 minutes of locate online gaming addiction. 2014 Alienation from one’s social background 2) Do you always think of the online game? –friends or family. The removal must be of long duration as time to online gaming in order to experience a harsh yet unavoidable measure (Griffiths & enthusiasm? Meredith. depression? The ever-occurring question thus is: “How can a 7) Have you ever risked or even interrupt an user be characterized as internet addict?”.is another sign of online gaming (Do you think of the next time you will get online addiction. 4) Do you feel angry. 2009). the questions being as follows: Ways to prevent or fight against online gaming 1) Do you occupy yourself with the game in ques. 10-14. online gaming addiction. parents should set a clear time limit for occupied with the online game in question? online gaming. someone tries to interrupt or limit the time you devote to online gaming? Online gaming addiction diagnostic tests 5) Have you repeatedly yet unsuccessfully tried to limit or stop your preoccupation with online The concern of morbid preoccupation with gaming? online gaming is not a recent one for scientific 6) Do you occupy yourself with online gam- society. moody or anxious when not First of all. parents should provide their 6) Do you neglect to complete your school tasks children with occupation alternatives like chances in order to devote more time to the online game in to communicate with their friends or new interests question? like driving lessons. In even more acute 3) Have you ever lied to your friends or fami- addiction cases users may develop irrationally ly to hide the extent of your preoccupation with aggressive behavior towards anyone trying to limit online gaming? his daily preoccupation with online gaming 4) Do you feel anxious or irritated when (Oggins & Jeffrey. The amount of time devoted to an 5) Do you limit your social or sports activities to online platform use must be limited by parents occupy yourself with the online game in question? exclusively. ing on a daily basis to escape from daily problems The more interactive however a game interface is. 2003). which might indicate online gaming addiction. guilt. a positive number in one of yet substantial way to fight against addiction. Users are considered to be progress or professional development due to con- abnormally preoccupied with online gaming if they stant preoccupation with online gaming? get positive answers to four or more answers. Parents ought however to remove the computer The test is as follows: from the child’s access space. Given the fact that young pation with online gaming) people are primarily preoccupied with online gam- 3) Do you occupy yourself with online gaming out ing. They should impose such lim- 7) Do you –unsuccessfully try to limit the amount its despite claims that young people communicate of time you devote to the online game? through the internet. Moreover. This measure may also discourage addiction test was created subsequently to the them from constant focus on their computer that Internet Addiction Test (IAT). should any other 1) Do you need to devote more and more tactic fail. or feel alleviated from despair. we feel that parents have a major role to play of joy or boredom? in the process of prevention and rehabilitation. A short net addiction (Young. This utility includes a break after 30 minutes of internet action is simple number of questions. . Electronic games are placed on the top when not online?) of the user’s needs hierarchy. The online gaming computer use. a utility locating inter. for the problem exists some decades now. In 2003 interpersonal relationship or your wedding due to Griffiths invented and suggested a seven-question constant preoccupation with online gaming? list as an answer to this question (Griffiths & 8) Have you ever risked your job. may alienate them from the real world.

One can nowadays find many online forums (spe- cialists or non) providing support. 2014 13 Controlled and limited internet use consti. measure against online gaming addiction. ment to change and rehabilitation (Miller & tutes in fact methods of prevention. The current study is part of a wide attempt cause.2007). This method borrows strategies from Cognitive Behaviour therapy. 10-14. previously consuming their energy in a virtual tive due to the fusion between real and virtual they world. The entire world is replaced by a virtual reali- native ways to fulfill such emotional needs (Young. Motivational Interviewing is an alternative method that can help rehabilitation. The also be urged to occupy themselves with activities study takes place in the Neuropsychology Lab of they are naturally inclined to be good at. Rollnick. The motive of school proficiency must also be activat- ed to ward students off online gaming. The most pop. cause problems to teenagers and their social gy of the aforementioned therapeutic approach is background. In fact. What can someone find in such websites (many of them created by online games development companies) is the spe- cialists’ advice as well as many deterrent exam- ples of the social problems that excessive internet use can cause. protection and rehabilitation advice to users. while others can also be visited by children. developed in countries like Holland and South Korea incorporate family support using also all social skills of the user (Griffiths. It provides advice taking advantage of systems the- ory and the social psychology of persuasion. ular way to fight against online gaming addiction is Online gaming addiction can indistinctively the Cognitive Behaviour Therapy. also manages to successfully and gradually incor- selves with military activities games. The specific porate in society the power of active teenagers. 1991). types of online games are reportedly highly addic. The methodolo. they would not essential only for the addicts’ rehabilitation. 2003). A number of them are only accessible by parents. searching also for alter. Motivational Interviewing works in parallel to ambivalence creating a feeling of inner commit- . prerequisite for further advance and academic Parents should also take care of the content of progress. ty neglecting all commitments that constitute a 2007). Thus. The motive of a distinction in sports or music can impel them to take up new activities and devote time to them rather than their computer screen. the confrontation of the problem is games chosen by their children. In this case parents can also activate the motive of eagerness for an academic progress in order to decrease the dura- tion of online gaming and fend the danger of addiction (Griffiths.ENCEPHALOS 51. Poor per- formance at school may often be associated with internet addiction tendencies. The result of such an extensive inter- as follows: players examine the emotional motives net use is the user’s gradual alienation from real that led to their addiction. It rather discourage them from occupying them. Discouraging children from such games to confront the problem of internet addiction and can prevent future addiction. as a the University of Thessaly. There are also therapeutic pro- grams for online addiction rehabilitation Such pro- grams. Young people should support both teenagers and their families. life.

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