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Gaming Disorder, Internet

Gaming Disorder, Internet is a topic covered in the 5-Minute Clinical Consult.

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  • Internet gaming disorder (IGD) is where the “gamers” play compulsively, to the exclusion of other interests resulting in clinically significant impairment or distress.
  • For gaming disorder to be diagnosed, the behavior pattern must be of sufficient severity and would be evident for at least 12 months.
  • IGD is identified in section III of DSM-5 as a condition warranting more clinical research and experience before it might be considered for inclusion in the main book as a formal disorder.
  • On June 18, 2018, WHO recognized gaming disorder as a mental health condition.
  • Gaming disorder (digital or video) is included in ICD-11.


  • Predominant age—adolescence
  • Predominant sex—male

  • Median prevalence of 2.0%
  • Prevalence rates are highest in Eastern Asian countries and male adolescents aged 12 to 20 years (1).

Etiology and Pathophysiology

  • On the molecular level, Internet addiction is characterized by an overall reward deficiency that entails decreased dopaminergic activity (2).
  • On the level of neural circuitry, Internet and gaming addiction lead to neuroadaptation and structural changes that occur as a consequence of prolonged increased activity in brain areas associated with addiction (2).
  • On a behavioral level, Internet and gaming addicts appear to be constricted with regards to their cognitive functioning in various domains (2).
  • IGD shares multiple features with drug addictions, including elevated impulsivity, cognitive inflexibility, and attentional biases.

Risk Factors

The following risk factors were found to be significantly associated with IGD (3):

  • Functional and dysfunctional impulsivity
  • Belief self-control
  • Anxiety
  • Pursuit of desired appetitive goals
  • Money spent on gaming
  • Weekday game time
  • Offline community meeting attendance
  • Game community membership
  • Gaming motives play a role as well.
  • Gamers with psychiatric distress use it a coping strategy to improve their mood and/or attain emotional stability.
  • Achievement-related motives may be related to the lack of real-life achievements that are compensated by virtual victories and successes.

Commonly Associated Conditions

  • Anxiety disorder
  • Mood disorder
  • Autism spectrum disorder
  • Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
  • Personality disorder
  • Behavioral disorder

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Stephens, Mark B., et al., editors. "Gaming Disorder, Internet." 5-Minute Clinical Consult, 27th ed., Wolters Kluwer, 2019. Medicine Central, im.unboundmedicine.com/medicine/view/5-Minute-Clinical-Consult/1688251/2.1/Gaming_Disorder_Internet.
Gaming Disorder, Internet. In: Stephens MB, Golding J, Baldor RA, et al, eds. 5-Minute Clinical Consult. 27th ed. Wolters Kluwer; 2019. https://im.unboundmedicine.com/medicine/view/5-Minute-Clinical-Consult/1688251/2.1/Gaming_Disorder_Internet. Accessed June 26, 2019.
Gaming Disorder, Internet. (2019). In Stephens, M. B., Golding, J., Baldor, R. A., & Domino, F. J. (Eds.), 5-Minute Clinical Consult. Available from https://im.unboundmedicine.com/medicine/view/5-Minute-Clinical-Consult/1688251/2.1/Gaming_Disorder_Internet
Gaming Disorder, Internet [Internet]. In: Stephens MB, Golding J, Baldor RA, Domino FJ, editors. 5-Minute Clinical Consult. Wolters Kluwer; 2019. [cited 2019 June 26]. Available from: https://im.unboundmedicine.com/medicine/view/5-Minute-Clinical-Consult/1688251/2.1/Gaming_Disorder_Internet.
* Article titles in AMA citation format should be in sentence-case
TY - ELEC T1 - Gaming Disorder, Internet ID - 1688251 ED - Stephens,Mark B, ED - Golding,Jeremy, ED - Baldor,Robert A, ED - Domino,Frank J, BT - 5-Minute Clinical Consult, Updating UR - https://im.unboundmedicine.com/medicine/view/5-Minute-Clinical-Consult/1688251/2.1/Gaming_Disorder_Internet PB - Wolters Kluwer ET - 27 DB - Medicine Central DP - Unbound Medicine ER -