Scientists compare gaming to porn and gambling in study of “problematic” internet use

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A group of European researchers has claimed that online gaming could be partly responsible for the rise of new internet-related health issues. A research group claims that gaming, along with internet gambling and online pornography, could be causing brand-new health problems.

The new academic collaboration is dubbed the European Problematic Use of the Internet Research Network. It was set up to examine the internet’s impact on previously-existing issues such as hoarding and hypochondria, which can be altered and exacerbated by heavy internet use.

The group was formed recently because, according to the group’s chairperson, University of Hertfordshire’s Professor Naomi Fineberg, more attention needs to be paid to the issues surrounding problematic internet use (via The Guardian). The concept of internet addiction is brought up, drawing up a similarity to the World Health Organisation’s classification of gaming addiction as a mental health disorder earlier this year. In the abstract of the new group’s manifesto, it draws attention to the WHO’s findings, and states that “more research is needed into disorder definitions.”

The abstract also states that “the Internet can act as a conduit for, and may contribute to, functionally impairing behaviours including excessive and compulsive video gaming.” Alongside gaming, the group mentions “compulsive sexual behaviour, buying, gambling, streaming or social networks use.”

It would seem that the idea is not to demonise gaming itself, but to draw attention to the growing overuse of various internet services, which can have their own impacts on mental health. You can check out the group’s manifesto here, although be aware that it’s not exactly light reading.