Policy and Prevention Approaches for Disordered and Hazardous Gaming and Internet Use: an International Perspective
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Problems related to high levels of gaming and Internet usage are increasingly recognized as a potential public health burden across the developed world. The aim of this review was to present an international perspective on prevention strategies for Internet gaming disorder and related health conditions (e.g., Internet addiction), as well as hazardous gaming and Internet use. A systematic review of quantitative research evidence was conducted, followed by a search of governmental reports, policy and position statements, and health guidelines in the last decade. The regional scope included the USA, UK, Australia, China, Germany, Japan, and South Korea. Prevention studies have mainly involved school-based programs to train healthier Internet use habits in adolescents. The efficacy of selective prevention is promising but warrants further empirical attention. On an international scale, the formal recognition of gaming or Internet use as a disorder or as having quantifiable harms at certain levels of usage has been foundational to developing structured prevention responses. The South Korean model, in particular, is an exemplar of a coordinated response to a public health threat, with extensive government initiatives and long-term strategic plans at all three levels of prevention (i.e., universal, selective, and indicated). Western regions, by comparison, are dominated by prevention approaches led by non-profit organizations and private enterprise. The future of prevention of gaming and Internet problems ultimately relies upon all stakeholders working collaboratively in the public interest, confronting the reality of the evidence base and developing practical, ethical, and sustainable countermeasures.
KeywordsInternet gaming disorder Internet addiction Prevention Public health Policy DSM-5
Compliance with Ethical Standards
This work was commissioned by the World Health Organization (WHO) in preparation for the WHO meeting on “Policy and programme responses to mental and behavioural disorders associated with excessive use of the internet and other communication and gaming platforms” in Hong Kong SAR, China, September 6–8, 2016. This work also received financial support from a Discovery Early Career Researcher Award (DECRA) DE170101198 funded by the Australian Research Council.
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
Ethical Approval and Informed Consent
Not required for this work.
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