Growing Up Online Toolkit for Service Providers

Problematic gaming is defined as any use that causes significant distress in the lives of children and youth. This includes excessive gaming, as well as a diagnosis of a gaming disorder or addiction. The World Health Organization (WHO) officially included gaming disorder (GD) in the 11th revised edition of the International Classification of Diseases in May 2019. However, this inclusion is under revision since millions of children and youth play video games as part of a normal healthy entertainment; hence, further research is needed to avoid stigma. Additionally, internet gaming disorder is included in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5) in the section of disorders requiring further research. This shows that scientific studies refers that persistent and recurrent use of internet games, and a concern with them, can result in clinically significant impairment or distress.

Key Learnings or Messages

  • Gaming introduces children to computer technology and make them comfortable with the concepts of the online world. If it is used in moderation it may provide tools for learning, increase literacy, foster social connection, and encourage problem-solving, strategizing, and teamwork.
  • Problematic gaming can have negative impacts on youth in several life areas: school, social relationships, mental health, and leisure activities can all be affected by problematic use.
  • When the brain becomes accustomed to the rush of dopamine caused by the use of video games, it is no longer able to find pleasure in former enjoyable everyday activities.

Prevalence & Trends

There is a number of research that shows some attention-grabbing facts around problematic gaming that service providers need to be aware of when supporting children, youth, and families.

Continuum of Gaming

Research finds that gaming can actually have many benefits for children and youth, but there are also many games that have been created for various purposes that can be challenging for children, youth, and their families as they may be related to many adverse consequences.

Intervention & Treatment

There is a wide range of treatments, such as family therapy, counselling, and guides for children and their families/guardians who are struggling with gaming and related difficulties.

Case Study

The clinical description portrayed is fictional. Any resemblance with real cases are purely coincidental.

Screening & Assessment Tools

There are different types of measures supported by scientific research that are being adapted for children and youth. Several instruments may be completed by clinicians and some others are self-administered. Before using any tool or instrument for assessment purposes, service providers must complete a comprehensive interview with children, youth and families. Practitioners can use these tools to assess and screen the behaviours, emotions, and thoughts of the individual who are experiencing negative effects of problematic gaming.

Service Provider Resources

The problematic use of gaming has quickly attracted the attention of many professionals to generate resources for children and youth and their families. Service providers may need access to resources for accurate diagnosis, such as educational resources, medical examination, clinical history, observation, referrals, screening, assessment; family members, and school’s staff interviews. As part of the support provided, it is recommended that service providers consider the individual’s context and their physical, cognitive and emotional functioning. This will help service providers generate a comprehensive assessment and treatment.