Topic 3 Looking for indicator signs

WHO (WHO, 2019) defined gaming disorder as a pattern of persistent or recurrent gaming behaviour (“digital gaming”  or  “video-gaming”), which  may  be  online  (i.e., over  the  internet)  or  offline,  manifested  by 3 characteristic symptoms:

  1. Impaired control over gaming (e.g., onset, frequency, intensity, duration, termination, context)
  2. Increasing priority given to gaming to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other life interests and daily activities
  3. Continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.

The behaviour pattern is of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning.

All the symptoms and functional impairment must be present for a person to be diagnosed with Gaming Disorder.

There are several scales for assessing problematic social media use, and perhaps the most known one is the Bergen Social Media Addiction Scale (BSMAS).

  1. spending a lot of time thinking about social media or planning how to use it
  2. feeling an urge to use social media more and more
  3. using social media in order to forget about personal problems
  4. trying to cut down on the use of social media without success
  5. becoming restless or troubled if you are prohibited from using social media
  6. using social media so much that it has had a negative impact on your job/studies.

The items are rated on the following scale: 1=very rarely, 2=rarely, 3=sometimes, 4=often,  5=very often; and rating 4 or more of these items with often or very often could be an indication of social media addiction. However, this is just for orientational purposes and is not an official criterion.

What is and What is not problematic

  • Many media and some public figures and scientists overemphasize the threats from digital technology and at the same time undermine its advantages (for more information see: Bell, Bishop & Przybylski, 2015; Whitton & Maclure, 2017, Orben, 2020). Pay attention not to fall prey to such sensationalistic claims!
  • Parents are also worried about the impact of digital technology on their children, as in a recent US poll 86% of parents agreed or strongly agreed that their adolescents play too much video games* (Mott Poll Report, 2020).

However, there is no evidence that usual and even high levels of digital technology use of children and adolescents will lead to negative outcomes (e.g., Orben & Przybylski, 2019). More crucial than that is how they are doing in their lives in general, are they fulfilling their school obligations, are they feeling competent and autonomous, are they socializing with their peers and so on.

  • A child or adolescent may therefore use a lot of social media, watch many TikTok videos or play a a lot of video games and still be well-adjusted. Just as the previous generation of children was watching a lot of TV, this generation is primarily online, which can actually bring more possible benefits (more on the creative and productive uses of the Internet are presented later on).
  • Problematic use of online applications will appear in really a small number of children and adolescents (we discussed and will discuss how to recognize and manage it) and the right way is to embrace new technologies, let go of the fear and be involved in how your children use them (more will be said later), and even more importantly, be a supportive parent in general.