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Study finds no clear evidence of increased web gaming disorder during COVID-19 pandemic

Study finds no clear evidence of increased web gaming disorder during COVID-19 pandemic

A study published within the PLOS Public Health Journal researched the effect of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) on web gaming disorder amongst the final population.

Study: Effect of COVID-19 pandemic on web gaming disorder amongst general population: A scientific review and meta-analysis. Image Credit: sezer66/Shutterstock.com


The appearance of low-cost rapid web access technologies, coupled with that sophisticated smartphones, has led to the rise of web gaming disorder (IGD) during the last couple of a long time.

This might potentially have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. A brand new paper explores this possibility via a survey and meta-analysis of studies coping with IGD throughout the pandemic years.


With the onset of COVID-19, much of routine living activities, including socialization, education, and shopping, shifted to the web space.

Entertainment, which was already copiously provided by that time in the shape of flicks, videos, and online games, became the refuge for thousands and thousands of individuals indisposed to, or cut off from, other types of social interaction and physical recreation.

Web games or online games are video games that require to be played partly or completely through a pc network.

It’s showing exponential growth, with almost three billion gamers having been reported the world over. Much of this growth occurred during COVID-19.

Why is web gaming an issue?

Scientists say that moderate use of web games could be fun and reduce stress, improving the power to learn by sharpening cognitive skills.

In excess, though, gaming may wreck the musculoskeletal balance, cause depression and poor sleep habits, reduce academic skills and stop optimal achievement in these fields, cause eating habits to alter. Furthermore, it poses the chance of addiction, causing IGD, and might decrease the standard of life.

The American Psychiatric Association describes IGD as a…

persistent and recurrent use of the web to have interaction in games, often with other players, resulting in clinically significant distress.”

The present study assessed how much the pandemic affected IGD prevalence. Providing data for suitable interventions to be framed by individuals, private groups, and public policy makers, for the prevention and treatment of this mental disorder.

What did the study show?

The researchers carried out three independent meta-analyses on nine studies, with a further systematic review of 24 observational papers. Many of the participants were younger, thus more liable to use technology and to turn into hooked on the web, as to other addictive agents.

The younger population is more prone to be isolated from society and to be freed from restrictions on their environment, aspects that increase the chance of IGD.

One systematic review from 2018, covering East Asia, showed the very best IGD prevalence to be between the ages of 12 and 20 years.

One meta-analysis of three studies showed that the prevalence of IGD was 8%, that’s, encompassing over one in seven of the population.

These studies got here from three Asian countries, comprising almost 3,000 subjects. The researchers suggest that this may increasingly indicate an increase in IGD prevalence throughout the pandemic in South-East Asia.

A second one, including 4 studies, showed a pooled mean of ~16.6, which didn’t meet the cut-off value of the IGDS9-SF tool. These studies got here from India, Italy, Iran and Nepal and were quite heterogeneous, making the conclusion unreliable.

A 3rd meta-analysis, on two studies, compared two groups, finding no significant difference within the rates of IGD before or after the pandemic.

Direct comparisons of IGD rates between countries are difficult due to lack of standardized assessment tools, differences within the tested population and within the diagnostic criteria used.

Notably, most studies included within the review were from China, which has recently seen an upsurge in web games amongst youth and teenagers. In 2022, there have been 666 million web gamers within the country, and most were above the age of 18 years.

An earlier study from Nanchong, China, found significant evidence of clinical IGD in a tenth of male college students during pre-pandemic years. China has thus put into place several preventive and therapeutic interventions to modulate this risk.

Children below 18 years will not be allowed to game outside specified hours, as an example, and there are 250 centers for gaming detoxing and rehabilitation within the country.

What are the implications?

The present study didn’t provide support for the hypothesis that the pandemic increased IGD rates. The strength of the conclusions is proscribed by the low variety of studies, poor design, their significant heterogeneity, short follow-up periods, and poor strength of evidence.

Most studies got here from Asia, especially China, and will due to this fact not represent the worldwide picture.

A greater understanding of IGD and its prevalence in periods of stress just like the COVID-19 pandemic can higher help individuals who rely on the web and online gaming for entertainment or coping with stress.”

The researchers call for higher studies to know the present situation and evaluate the chance, such that IGD could be properly addressed using appropriate interventions.


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