Date of Degree
PhD (Doctor of Philosophy)
Researchers have indicated that Internet addiction is a wide-spread problem, impacting the lives of an estimated 4-10% of all Internet users. Researchers have also indicated that Internet addiction has a social component, with Internet addicts using the Internet to build and maintain new social relationships at a much higher rate than non-addicts. This study explored Internet addiction in the context of Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games (MMORPGs). Data were drawn from MMORPG players and from mental health counselors to determine incidence rates of Internet addiction among MMORPG players, social needs that were predictive of Internet addiction, rates of treatment seeking behaviors by MMORPG players for Internet addiction, and how Internet addiction is diagnosed and treated by mental health counselors.
For this study, the MMORPG Player Survey and the Counselor Survey were used to collect data from MMORPG players and mental health counselors. The MMORPG Player Survey was administered to 513 MMORPG players. The Counselor Survey was administered to 80 mental health counselors.
Results from the MMORPG Player Survey indicated that approximately 15% (n=78) of MMORPG players met criteria for Internet addiction, as defined by the Diagnostic Questionnaire (DQ). A stepwise regression analysis of loneliness, confidence, liberation, validation, and support found that loneliness and confidence were both predictive of Internet addiction among participants (F2,473=115.921, p< .001) with an adjusted R square of .326. Of MMORPG players surveyed, .6% (n=3) indicated that they have sought professional help for Internet addiction. Mental health counselors reported that Internet addiction was most likely to be diagnosed as depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, or impulse control disorder. Furthermore, mental health counselors reported that they were most likely to treat Internet addiction using one of the following theoretical orientations: cognitive, reality, family systems, or solution focused.
These findings highlight a subpopulation of the online community who are in need of mental health services and are not receiving them. Recommendations for future research include qualitative studies of the social aspects of MMORPG gaming among Internet addicts, as well as research exploring potential deterrents to mental health services among this population.
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Copyright 2005 Jeffrey Michael Parsons
Parsons, Jeffrey Michael. "An examination of massively multiplayer online role-playing games as a facilitator of internet addiction." dissertation, University of Iowa, 2005.