Saul Rosenthal, PhD

Boston Area Health Psychologist

The World Health Organization recently included Gaming Disorder as a new diagnosis for the upcoming 11th edition of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11). The ICD is the diagnostic “bible” used by health care providers around the world. While the exact criteria do not seem available, the WHO defines Gaming Disorder as:

a pattern of gaming behavior (“digital-gaming” or “video-gaming”) characterized by impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming over other activities to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities, and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.

For diagnosis, the behavior must significantly interfere with functioning and exist for at least 12 months.


September 16th, 2018

Posted In: Internet Addiction

One aspect of Internet Addiction (or Problematic Technology Overuse as I call it) that I think deserves attention is the role of impulsivity. Impulsivity follows a sequence:

I See It

I Want It

I Grab for It

We’ve all been impulsive at one time or another, usually without too many bad consequences. Unfortunately, if a person can’t control their impulsivity, they are likely to get into trouble. A child may see candy in a shop and grab it. A driver might see an opening in the next lane and cut in front of another driver. You might see something you want on the Amazon site and click the One Click Shopping button.

In fact, I think that in many ways our natural impulsivity is a driving force (perhaps the driving force) behind the success of the Internet. We see something we want and the Internet makes it really really really easy to get.

How often have you clicked from one link to another, following the promise of something more interesting/useful/fun, until you suddenly realize that much more time has passed than you’d thought? When we impulsively pursue something, our concepts of time and priority change. Impulsive acts are short-lived, distinct events that hyper-focus our attention. For better or worse, the Internet is filled with quickly-achieved targets that provide a taste of satisfaction while frequently promising more if you would just click this one last link…


April 22nd, 2015

Posted In: Internet Addiction, Neurofeedback