Variables of excessive computer internet use in childhood and adolescence

Doctoral thesis German OPEN
Thalemann, Ralf (2010)
  • Publisher: Freie Universität Berlin Universitätsbibliothek, Garystr. 39, 14195 Berlin
  • Subject: 610 Medizin und Gesundheit | 610 Medical sciences; Medicine | adolescents | EEG | cue-reactivity | excessive computer use
    • ddc: ddc:610
    mesheuropmc: human activities
    acm: ComputingMilieux_PERSONALCOMPUTING

The aim of this doctoral thesis is the characterization of excessive computer and video gaming in terms of a behavioral addiction. Therefore, the development of a diagnostic psychometric instrument was central to differentiate between normal and pathological computer gaming in adolescence. In study 1, 323 children were asked about their video game playing behavior to assess the prevalence of pathological computer gaming. Data suggest that excessive computer and video game players use their excessive rewarding behavior specifically as an inadequate stress coping strategy. Based on these findings, a cognitive-behavioral model of computer addiction was developed. In study 2, a sample comprising of 7069 gamers answered two online questionnaires. Data revealed that 11.9% of participants fulfilled diagnostic criteria of addiction concerning their gaming behavior. To investigate whether excessive computer gaming parallels learning processes in development and maintenance (which are assumed to underlie drug addiction), in study 3 a psychophysiological assessment of the (learned) emotional processing of computer game-relevant and -irrelevant cues was obtained. For this purpose, electroencephalographic recordings in excessive and casual computer game players were conducted. Significant between-group differences in event-related potentials evoked by computer game related-cues were found at parietal regions and point to an increased emotional processing of these cues in excessive pathological players compared with casual players. These results are in concordance with the suggestion that addiction is characterized and maintained through sensitization of the mesolimbic dopaminergic system along with incentive salience of specific addiction-associated cues. Hence, an addictive potential of gaming should be taken into consideration regarding prevention and intervention.
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