World’s First PhD in Game Addiction?

November 16, 2010 -

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.”


Comments

Re: World’s First PhD in Game Addiction?

Professor Mark Griffiths just informed me that this is not the first PhD in game addiction. He co-supervised a PhD student last year who wrote his thesis on game addiction. Dr Daniel King from the University of Adelaide is the world's first, not me. Sorry for the confusion.

 

Re: World’s First PhD in Game Addiction?

While I agree with many points in the paper, the opening e-mail is bothersome.  The concerned mother started off claiming that her son has a known and well documented affliction, ADD, but does not mention if he is being treated for it, if he is withdrawn, bullied, etc.  This kid latched onto games to fill a void in his life, one that can stem from any number of reasons including parents refusing to treat ADD because they don't believe in medication.

I believe that starting off the paper with an e-mail that is full of emotion but no practice tainted the way I read the rest of the document :(

Re: World’s First PhD in Game Addiction?

Let's hear it for reason.

Re: World’s First PhD in Game Addiction?

 Finally, someone with sense. 

Re: World’s First PhD in Game Addiction?

Well this seems a far more reasonable approach than the op-ed posted yesterday.  I'm not sure I'm wild about including a "pathological gaming" category in the DSM mostly because I'm concerned it would be abused and politicized.  But I like to see researchers taking a calm objective approach as this.

Re: World’s First PhD in Game Addiction?

I agree with him for the most part. People who have a gap in their social needs will attempt to latch to something that gives them that satisfaction they are missing. Video gaming tends to be an easy one to get into and get that social need that a person desires or lacks.

He even said that games themselves are NOT addictive, but merely the social effect or that feeling of satisfaction you get is what people get obessive with. Which I am glad someone actually cared to make that statement. To call it addiction is false. Is it pathological in nature though? Absolutely! However I am sure many people will jump on the bandwagon and say it is addiction...

Pathology/Pathological: Any variant or deviant condition from normal. Caused by or evidencing a mentally disturbed condition.

---------

James Fletcher, member of ECA Canada

 

Re: World’s First PhD in Game Addiction?

" 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."

To me, this is pretty much an obvious statement of fact.

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