Why and how to include parents in the treatment of adolescents presenting Internet gaming disorder? (2019)

J Behav Addict. 2019 May 31:1-12. doi: 10.1556/2006.8.2019.27.

Bonnaire C1,2, Liddle HA3, Har A4, Nielsen P5, Phan O2,4,6.



Clinicians and researchers are increasingly interested in investigating excessive use of video gaming recently named Internet gaming disorder (IGD). As is the case with extensively researched adolescent problem behaviors such as substance use disorder, several studies associate IGD with the young person’s family environment and the parent-adolescent relationship in particular. Evidence-based treatments for a range of adolescent clinical problems including behavioral addictions demonstrate efficacy, the capacity for transdiagnostic adaptation, and lasting impact. However, less attention has been paid to developing and testing science-based interventions for IGD, and at present most tested interventions for IGD have been individual treatments (cognitive behavioral therapy).


This article presents the rationale for a systemic conceptualization of IGD and a therapeutic approach that targets multiple units or subsystems. The IGD treatment program is based on the science-supported multidimensional family therapy approach (MDFT). Following treatment development work, the MDFT approach has been adapted for IGD.


The article discusses recurring individual and family-based clinical themes and therapeutic responses in the MDFT-IGD clinical model, which tailors interventions for individuals and subsystems within the young person’s family.


Basic science developmental research can inform conceptualization of IGD and a systemic logic model of intervention and change. This paper aims to expand treatment theorizing and intervention approaches for practitioners working with frequently life-altering behaviors of excessive Internet gaming. We operationalize this aim by addressing the question of why and how parents should be involved in youth IGD treatment.

KEYWORDS: Internet gaming disorder; adolescents; family relationships; multidimensional family therapy; parents

PMID: 31146552

DOI: 10.1556/2006.8.2019.27