Talking Point: Examining gaming disorder: prevalence, treatment and prevention

Since 1996, internet addiction has been scientifically researched as a process addictive behaviour. This umbrella term addresses repeated behaviour leading to significant harm or distress, which is not reduced by the person and persists for over a year, producing functional impairment. It includes a spectrum of internet use-related addictive problems.

Gaming is defined as a persistent and recurrent playing behaviour, often with other players through online settings, leading to clinically significant impairment or distress as indicated by addictive symptomatology for a period of a year. During the first decade of this century, the American Psychiatric Association discussed its formal recognition and finally included it as ‘internet gaming disorder’ in the third appendix of the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders.

In 2018, the World Health Organization formally included ‘Gaming disorder’ in the 11th Revision of the International Classification of Diseases. This presentation aims to show the evolution of this new addiction problem, highlighting how it is usually screened, its estimated prevalence, the user profile, the treatments undertaken, their prognosis, and a set of policy options recently drawn for its prevention. Lessons learned and future priorities will also be discussed.


Olatz Lopez Fernandez PhD (Barcelona, 2007, 2013), is a health psychologist who specialises in addictive behaviours and educational technology. She is currently a Senior Lecturer at Monash University and the Course Coordinator of the Graduate Programs of Addictive Behaviours at Turning Point.

Originally from Spain, Olatz joined the University of Barcelona (Spain) in 2002 and later specialised in addictive behaviours research in 2005, focusing her attention on internet-use related addiction problems. She was appointed Senior Researcher at the Catholic University of Louvain (Belgium) in 2014 as a Marie Curie Fellow (leading the project: Tech Use Disorders, for the European Commission).

Olatz subsequently continued on as Senior Lecturer at Nottingham Trent University (NTU) since 2016 (UK; leading the projects: Female gamer for NTU, and Harmful internet use - Part I: Internet addiction and problematic use, for the European Parliament). She has led and contributed to research outcomes that have promoted the recognition of Gaming Disorder, such as collaborating as an independent expert in the World Health Assembly defending this approach.