Dr. Jeroen Lemmens is a teacher at the University of Amsterdam and just last week successfully defended his dissertation and received his PhD, which he believes makes him the world’s first possessor of a PhD in game addiction.
Dr. Lemmens’ dissertation consisted of four articles, which are summarized in a paper entitled Causes and Consequences of Pathological Gaming (PDF). According to the doctor, it’s the first time longitudinal analyses were utilized in order to reveal the causes and consequences of pathological involvement with games.
The paper’s underlying claim is that “adolescent gamers with pre‐existing psychosocial vulnerabilities, such as loneliness, low social competence, and low self‐esteem, are more likely to become pathologically involved with games.”
Even though the pathological use of games “can seriously disrupt the lives of players and their families,” the dissertation cautions that “it is important that we do not overstate the dangers of computer and video games,” as for the vast majority, “games are nothing but a source of enjoyment and pleasure.”
Advice was offered for parents of children who might have a pathological gaming pattern:
Simply reducing the amount of time spent on games may not be an effective solution because the psychosocial problems remain. Therefore, treatment and prevention might focus on activities that stimulate the development of social skills that improve social interaction and build self‐esteem in a non‐gaming environment.
Dr. Lemmens told GamePolitics that he hopes to perform more longitudinal research on game addiction in the future. When we asked if he was a gamer, the reply was affirmative, with the doctor adding that he loves playing videogames and this love “is what got me interested in this line of research.”
He also further described his findings for us, stating:
I also think it is worth noting that our findings indicate that games themselves are not addictive. However, certain adolescent males with pre-existing psychosocial vulnerabilities are more susceptible to developing pathological involvement, especially with games that have online multiplayer components. It seems likely that the social interaction in these games is used to compensate for their real-world social deficiencies.
We ran Dr. Lemmens’ research past Texas A&M International University Associate Professor, and videogame researcher, Christopher Ferguson, who responded that “The finding that pathological gaming rises from underlying psychopathology (rather than something unique to games) jives with the research I've seen.”