Reducing Internet Gaming


The fifth revision of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders includes in its research appendix a potential new diagnosis-Internet gaming disorder. This condition primarily affects adolescent boys and young adult men, who rarely seek treatment on their own. More often, parents express concerns about their child's game playing behaviors. This psychotherapy development study will evaluate feasibility and effect sizes of an intervention designed to help parents reduce their child's gaming problems; the intervention allows for child participation, but it is geared toward parents, regardless of whether or not their child is willing to participate. A total of 40 parents concerned about their child's gaming behaviors will complete self and parental report inventories and structured diagnostic interviews regarding gaming, substance use and psychosocial functioning. Children who elect to participate will complete parallel versions of the instruments. Participants will be randomized to a control condition consisting of referral for mental health issues and family support services or to a 6-week behavioral intervention designed to assist with better monitoring and regulating the child's game playing behaviors. Gaming and other problems will be assessed pre-treatment, at the end of treatment and at a 4-month follow-up. This study will be the first to evaluate the reliability and validity of a parental version of the fifth revision of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders criteria for internet gaming disorder in a clinical sample, and it will assess associations of internet gaming disorder with substance use, mental health conditions, and family functioning as well. This study will be the first randomized trial of an intervention designed to assist parents in reducing their child's gaming problems, and results will help guide future development of interventions for Internet gaming disorder. To evaluate the feasibility and acceptability of this intervention, the proportion of parents assigned to the intervention who complete 6 sessions will be examined, as will the proportion of youth who attend the sessions. Parent and child ratings of satisfaction with the intervention will be assessed. To examine the effect size of the intervention on reducing gaming, parental reports of proportion of days on which their child played games and durations of game playing will be compared between conditions, controlling for baseline indices.

Full Title of Study: “Reducing Internet Gaming: A Pilot Psychotherapy Development Study”

Study Type

  • Study Type: Interventional
  • Study Design
    • Allocation: Randomized
    • Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment
    • Primary Purpose: Treatment
    • Masking: Single (Outcomes Assessor)
  • Study Primary Completion Date: November 2020


  • Behavioral: Behavioral therapy
    • 6-week behavioral intervention designed to assist with better monitoring and regulating the child’s game playing behaviors.
  • Behavioral: Referral for care
    • Referral for mental health issues and family support services

Arms, Groups and Cohorts

  • Active Comparator: Referral for care
  • Experimental: Behavioral therapy

Clinical Trial Outcome Measures

Primary Measures

  • Proportion of participants who complete sessions
    • Time Frame: 8 weeks
  • Proportion of days of game playing
    • Time Frame: 4 months

Participating in This Clinical Trial

Inclusion Criteria

  • parent/guardian of a 10-22 year old residing in the same household >8 months/year
  • reports significant problems with game playing

Exclusion Criteria

  • have a condition that may hinder study participation

Gender Eligibility: All

Minimum Age: 10 Years

Maximum Age: N/A

Are Healthy Volunteers Accepted: No

Investigator Details

  • Lead Sponsor
    • UConn Health
  • Collaborator
    • National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)
  • Provider of Information About this Clinical Study
    • Principal Investigator: Kristyn Zajac, Assistant Professor – UConn Health
  • Overall Official(s)
    • Kristyn Zajac, Ph.D., Principal Investigator, UConn Health

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