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Internet and videogame addiction: a review

OBJECTIVE: With the introduction of the new technologies to our daily lives, the Internet and electronic games have become widely and unrestrictedly used tools and one of the major global phenomena in the last decade. Several investigations have attested the benefits from such resources; however, their healthy, adaptive use progressively gave place to their abuse and the lack of control, which have severely impacted on the daily life of millions of users. The objective of this study was to systematically review the articles looking into Internet and electronic games addiction in the general population. We intend, therefore, to evaluate the progression of these concepts in the course of the last decade, as well as contributing to better understand this condition and its comorbidities. METHOD: A systematic literature review was conducted by means of MedLine, Lilacs, SciELO, and Cochrane using the following terms as a parameter: "Internet addiction", "pathological internet use", "internet abuse", "videogame" , "computer games" and "electronic games". The electronic search was done up to December 2007. DISCUSSION: Studies conducted in distinct countries still indicate very different prevalence rates; this is probably due to the absence of consensus and the use of diverse names, which brings about the adoption of distinct diagnostic criteria. Many patients reporting abusive use and dependence show significant consequences to their professional, academic (school), social and family lives. CONCLUSIONS: Further investigations are needed to determine whether this abusive Internet and electronic game use should be understood as one of the newest psychiatric classifications of the 21st century or just substrates of other disorders.

Internet; Videogame; Addiction; Impulse control disorders; Comorbidity

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