1 March 2012
Background and aims: Research suggests that excessive online gaming may lead to symptoms commonly experienced by substance addicts. Since games are particularly appealing to children and adolescents, these individuals may be more at risk than other groups of developing gaming addiction. Methods: Given these potential concerns, a literature review was undertaken in order (i) to present the classification basis of online gaming addiction using official mental disorder frameworks, (ii) to identify empirical studies that assess online gaming addiction in children and adolescents, and (iii) to present and evaluate the findings against the background of related and established mental disorder criteria. Results: Empirical evidence comprising 30 studies indicates that for some adolescents, gaming addiction exists and that as the addiction develops, online gaming addicts spend increasing amounts of time preparing for, organizing, and actually gaming. Conclusions: Evidence suggests that problematic online gaming can be conceptualized as a behavioral addiction rather than a disorder of impulse control.