Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry. 2014 Sep 5.
Excessive use of online computer games which leads to functional impairment and distress has recently been included as Internet Gaming Disorder (IGD) in Section III of the DSM-5. Although nosological classification of this phenomenon is still a matter of debate, it is argued that IGD might be described best as a non-substance-related addiction. Epidemiological surveys reveal that it affects up to 3 % of adolescents and seems to be related to heightened psychosocial symptoms. However, there has been no study of prevalence of IGD on a multi-national level relying on a representative sample including standardized psychometric measures.
The research project EU NET ADB was conducted to assess prevalence and psychopathological correlates of IGD in seven European countries based on a representative sample of 12,938 adolescents between 14 and 17 years. 1.6 % of the adolescents meet full criteria for IGD, with further 5.1 % being at risk for IGD by fulfilling up to four criteria.
The prevalence rates are slightly varying across the participating countries. IGD is closely associated with psychopathological symptoms, especially concerning aggressive and rule-breaking behavior and social problems. This survey demonstrated that IGD is a frequently occurring phenomenon among European adolescents and is related to psychosocial problems. The need for youth-specific prevention and treatment programs becomes evident.