In 2006, the American Medical Association decided to do its part to contribute to the body of knowledge associated with “gaming addiction,” violence and “Internet addiction.” The report — which doesn’t rise to any traditional academic standard for peer-reviewed research, such as a formal literature review — was just published (AMA Report on Internet and Video Game Addiction (PDF)).

How are the report’s findings when it comes to things like Internet addiction and video game addiction?

Well, let’s get to the juicy “Internet addiction” first.

The history of “Internet adddiction” is that it was a term that was coined in 1996 in a poster at the annual American Psychological Association convention. The term came from a small study that simply changed the word “gambling” in the criteria of “pathological gambling” to “Internet use” and found, not surprising, that a self-selected sample of people identified with the criteria. (The researcher could’ve easily done the same thing with the words, “shopping,” “watching TV,” or “eating chocolate,” and found similar results.)

What does the report say about this “disorder”?

This term seems to have been coined in the 1990s when researchers were attempting to describe a constellation of behaviors observed in persons using the Internet to such an extent that it began to cause other aspects of their lives to become dysfunctional. The DSM-IV disorder most similar to the pattern of behaviors observed with overuse of video games is pathological gambling.

The AMA report puts the chicken before the egg — the label came specifically from the pathological gambling criteria, so I sure hope the two criteria look very similar. But unlike the criteria for pathological gambling, which were empirically derived, the criteria for “Internet addiction” were simply copied from the existing pathological gambling criteria.

If the AMA report is sloppy in understanding the etiology of this “disorder,” I can’t help but wonder where else they were sloppy in this report.

The report also leaves out any mention of studies critical of “Internet addiction.” Why is that? Shouldn’t a report of this nature try to be balanced in its efforts and findings?

-2 Comments to
AMA Weighs in on Gaming and Internet Addiction

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  1. There is a slang phrase in the computer programing world, GIGO. That means Garbage In Garbage Out.

    No matter how many papers examine the behavior, failure to understand the cause dooms any meaningful outcome of these investigations.

    Those with serious psychiatric outcomes from video game play have accidentally created the “special circumstances” for Subliminal Distraction exposure. They incorrectly locate or use a computer where there is repeating detectable movement in peripheral vision.

    There are cases available that reveal that.

    Subliminal Distraction can be shown to cause addiction in a case history from China. A self taught Qi Gong user would not or could not stop gathering others to exercise with him even under threat of arrest and torture.

    Performing Qi Gong creates Subliminal Distraction. That’s why users have mental breaks.

    Until gamers and the producers of game machines and video CD’s post a warning this addiction and violence associated with video game play will continue.

  2. It may be a bad report, but still if I had to put my money on internet and/or gaming addiction making it into the DSM within the next 5 years, I wouldn’t bet against it.


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