SAFETY DOC PODCAST 58: Video Gaming the System – Are Video Games a Debilitating Addiction?

PODCAST-Dr. Perrodin, PhD, sifts and winnows a pair of articles pertaining to the controversial pathologizing of video games as addictive behaviors warranting recognition by the World Health Organization and American Psychiatric Association.

 

DIRECT LINK to MP3 of this Episode:  https://tinyurl.com/SDP58

 

HOW GAMING ADDICTION BECOMES A MEDICAL DIAGNOSIS

Gaming addiction and social media addiction are at the cusp of entry into the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM). It is the handbook used by healthcare professionals in the United States and much of the world as the authoritative guide to the diagnosis of mental disorders. DSM contains descriptions, symptoms, and other criteria for diagnosing mental disorders. So, yes, society is on the verge of assigning a medical code, or category, to these areas.  The DSM is an instant badge of credibility and typically translates into the creation of The International Classification of Diseases, Tenth Revision, Clinical Modification (ICD Code) which is a system used by physicians and other healthcare providers to classify and code all diagnoses, symptoms and procedures recorded in conjunction with hospital care in the United States.  So, from DSM to ICD is a short step.  From that point, it’s common for medical providers to bridge the ICD to a medical diagnosis and then some subsequent treatment plan which is mostly guesswork until empirical research charts a reasonable plan of care.  Of course, some insurance companies will deny a gaming addiction medical diagnosis with subsequent medication or therapy.

K-12 SCHOOL SETTING WILL BE THE ENTRY POINT FOR GAMING ADDICTION AS RECOGNIZED DISABILITY WARRANTING TREATMENT

However, the door is more easily opened in the K-12 school setting where a doctor’s diagnosis of a gaming addiction could lead into a school disability diagnosis as meeting the Other Health Impaired (OHI) or Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act.

SHAREHOLDERS WANT ACCOUNTABILITY – WHY THIS IS BEYOND A REALISTIC EXPECTATION

Two major Apple investors have urged the iPhone maker to take action to curb growing smartphone addiction among children, highlighting growing concern about the effects of gadgets and social media on youngsters. New York-based Jana Partners LLC and the California State Teachers’ Retirement System, or CalSTRS, said in open letter to Apple that the company must offer more tools to help children fight addiction on its services. Among their proposals, they recommend the company enhances mobile device software so parents have more options to protect their children’s health. The investors claims are based upon shoddy surveys and the expectations for the corporations to control usage of phones and gaming devices is fully unrealistic.  Dr. Perrodin compares this to parental controls to block channels on a television.  The issue at hand isn’t the content accessed by those using the devices as much as it is the frequency and duration that people are interacting with devices.  Again, Dr. Perrodin argues that people have always gravitated toward activities of interest – be it listening to the radio, talking on the phone or watching TV.

WHY “SIGNIFICANT DISTRESS” MATTERS IN ALLEGED GAMING ADDICTION

In an article by David DiSalvo (2016), a 9 question survey, known as the Bergen Survey, is used to qualify someone of having a gaming addiction diagnosis.  However, unless someone shows signs of significant distress when trying to reduce their gaming time, an addiction diagnosis wouldn’t apply.  Dr. Perrodin identifies this nebulous “significant distress” qualifier as essential as a research study of 19,000 male and female gamers from the US, UK, Canada and Germany indicate that just .5% – 1% of persons would have met the “distressed” threshold – something that wouldn’t at all be out of line for bicyclists or runners, for example, who might exhibit distress if trying to reduce their time with those activities.  Dr. Perrodin strongly challenges the validity of the Bergen Scale, which he identifies as very subjective and breaching the well-known problems with expecting people to recall events from 6-12 months ago without conflation of memories.

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Dr. Perrodin’s “Safety Doc Podcast” negotiates school and community safety. To be informed about industrial safety, please contact Appalachian State University Professor Dr. Timothy Ludwig, PhD, at www.safety-doc.com

Resources cited:

Apple might fight toxic iPhone addiction among children, urge two large investors with $2 billion in shares. (2018).  Phoebe Weston – Associated Press. Retrieved from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-5245831/Apple-investors-urge-action-curb-child-gadget-addiction.html 

Huge Study on Internet Gaming Addiction Turns Up Controversial Results. (2016). David DiSalvo – Forbes. Retrieved from https://www.forbes.com/sites/daviddisalvo/2016/11/29/huge-study-on-internet-gaming-addiction-turns-up-controversial-results/#67206c423779

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