Internet gaming disorder in children and adolescents: a systematic review (2018))

Dev Med Child Neurol. 2018 Apr 6. doi: 10.1111/dmcn.13754.

Paulus FW1, Ohmann S2, von Gontard A1, Popow C2.



Internet gaming disorder (IGD) is a serious disorder leading to and maintaining pertinent personal and social impairment. IGD has to be considered in view of heterogeneous and incomplete concepts. We therefore reviewed the scientific literature on IGD to provide an overview focusing on definitions, symptoms, prevalence, and aetiology.


We systematically reviewed the databases ERIC, PsyARTICLES, PsycINFO, PSYNDEX, and PubMed for the period January 1991 to August 2016, and additionally identified secondary references.


The proposed definition in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition provides a good starting point for diagnosing IGD but entails some disadvantages. Developing IGD requires several interacting internal factors such as deficient self, mood and reward regulation, problems of decision-making, and external factors such as deficient family background and social skills. In addition, specific game-related factors may promote IGD. Summarizing aetiological knowledge, we suggest an integrated model of IGD elucidating the interplay of internal and external factors.


So far, the concept of IGD and the pathways leading to it are not entirely clear. In particular, long-term follow-up studies are missing. IGD should be understood as an endangering disorder with a complex psychosocial background.


In representative samples of children and adolescents, on average, 2% are affected by Internet gaming disorder (IGD). The mean prevalences (overall, clinical samples included) reach 5.5%. Definitions are heterogeneous and the relationship with substance-related addictions is inconsistent. Many aetiological factors are related to the development and maintenance of IGD. This review presents an integrated model of IGD, delineating the interplay of these factors.

PMID: 29633243

DOI: 10.1111/dmcn.13754