Internet gaming a concern to some psychiatrists

05 May 2017

A survey of nearly 300 Australian and New Zealand psychiatrists found patients presenting with symptoms of Internet Gaming Disorder was becoming more common in their practice.

The survey by Adolescent Psychiatrist, Dr Pravin Dullur from Sydney’s Campbelltown Hospital, is the first snapshot of psychiatrists’ opinions on Internet Gaming Disorder and problematic Internet use.

The survey – to be published in Australasian Psychiatry this month – found 35 per cent of psychiatrists felt that Internet Gaming Disorder (IGD) may be common within their practice, but only 16 per cent were confident in managing the condition.

Dr Dullur said IGD involved addiction to specific Internet games and had been listed in the latest Diagnostic Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders as a condition for further study.

“Sixty per cent of the psychiatrists surveyed agreed that Internet Gaming Disorders currently pose a mental health problem,” he said.

“Seventy per cent of psychiatrists believe the disorder is likely to become a more significant problem across all ages in the future.

“Child and adolescent psychiatrists were the most concerned about the problem and were more likely to support routine screening for the disorder during clinical assessments.

“However, most psychiatrists also noted that it was possible to be addicted to non-gaming content like social networking sites.

“The survey found that males were more prone to Internet gaming while females were more likely to spend time social networking or on other screen-based activities.”

The influence of digital media on clinical issues in mental health will be discussed at the Royal Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists (RANZCP) Annual Congress from 30 April to 4 May at the Adelaide Convention Centre.

Dr Dullur said the majority of psychiatrists inquire about the duration of screen time but they do not necessarily test for the disorder.

“Psychiatrists have limited confidence in managing the disorder and this is a matter of concern given the scale of the problem,” he said.

“We recommend the development of new screening instruments and protocols to assist in early diagnosis and to plan services.

“Countries like Singapore and South Korea have extensive services for patients with IGD and these need to be replicated in Australian services.”

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