A primary care pediatrician’s guide to assessing problematic interactive media use (2019)

Curr Opin Pediatr. 2019 Apr 24. doi: 10.1097/MOP.0000000000000771.

Nereim C1, Bickham D, Rich M.



To review the literature and provide a guide to assessing patients with problematic interactive media use (PIMU).


0.3-1.0% of the world population meets criteria for internet gaming disorder (IGD). 26.8-83.3% of adolescents meeting criteria for internet addiction have comorbid attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder. IGD is associated with increased anxiety and social anxiety/phobias. Group counseling, cognitive behavioral therapy, and sports intervention are associated with significant reductions in internet addiction.


With the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders-5 inclusion of IGD under ‘Conditions for Further Study’ and the addition of gaming disorder to International Classification of Diseases (ICD)-11, the idea that PIMU is a mental health disorder gained traction. Although certain populations may be at increased risk, all children and adolescents should be screened for PIMU given now-normal heavy media usage rates. Effective treatment of PIMU starts with identification and management of comorbid mental and behavioral health problems. Depending on their degree of functional impairment, patients may benefit from various forms of psychotherapy with coordinated outpatient management or may warrant higher level of care in one of several established residential treatment programs. Few studies have evaluated pharmacologic approaches to treating PIMU, but some medications targeting comorbid mental and behavioral health conditions improve PIMU-related behaviors.

PMID: 31033606

DOI: 10.1097/MOP.0000000000000771