Gaming is not as addictive

The first large-scale research attempting to measure the extent of internet gaming addiction has found ... not very much. An Oxford University study suggests that playing online games is not as addictive as gambling.

The study represents an effort to evaluate the extent of "internet gaming disorder," added to the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) in 2013. The disorder is in fact not an official disorder, as the APA defines the term. Rather, it's a "condition for further study."

Researchers from Oxford University surveyed 19,000 men and women from the UK, the US, Canada and Germany. About half of them said they played internet games recently. Among the respondents, between 2  and 3 per cent reported five or more of the relevant symptoms of the condition. And between 0.5 and 1 percent reported "significant distress" at being unable to limit their play.

According to the study, these rates are about half those reported in the British Gambling Prevalence Survey.

"Contrary to what was predicted, the study did not find a clear link between potential addiction and negative effects on health, however, more research grounded in open and robust scientific practices is needed to learn if games are truly as addictive as many fear," said Dr Andrew Przybylski, of the Oxford Internet Institute, in a statement. ®

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