Is pathologizing gaming robbing young people of social capital: what is mental health nurses position?

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Publication details

Hurley, J, Linsley, P & O'Brien, T 2018, 'Is pathologizing gaming robbing young people of social capital: what is mental health nurses position?', International Journal of Mental Health Nursing, vol 27, no. S1, pp.23.

Abstract available from:


Peer Reviewed



Video gaming is a popular social pastime that is attracting both clinical and social attention with young people's overall game time predicted to amount to 100,000 hours by the time they reach age 21 (Kühn & Gallinat, 2014). The planned inclusion of internet gaming addiction into the ICD 11 is an arguable continuation of psychiatry's historical inclination to pathologize and then medically treat and restrict a range of human behaviours.

Aims and Method: This paper aims to presents findings from an ethics approved scoping study on the current knowledge of the impact that video gaming has on young people's (aged 12–25) mental health. Additionally, the study sought to better understand mental health nurses (MHN) attitudes and knowledge toward video gaming. A scoping survey of the literature and of 30 mental health nurses was undertaken to meet these outcomes.

Results: The scoped literature suggests benefits for young people who game moderately but that pathological gaming co‐exists with impaired psychosocial functioning. The scoping of the literature also indicated that gaming may have positive outcomes for cognitive function that are highly transferable to social contexts and roles. Most mental health nurses surveyed had limited knowledge of gaming. A large majority of MHN felt unequipped to either therapeutically use gaming in their practice or to assess if addiction was present.

Outcomes and Implications: This paper adds to the debates on video gaming by offering an additional lens through which to look at gaming, other than the medical model. A social capital model may be a more useful view for nurses to adopt toward video gaming, as it incorporates both beneficial and problematic perspectives. Given the reported lack of competence around identifying addiction behaviours and lack of use of gaming as a potential resource, there is a need to expand nurse's competence and literacy toward video gaming within 21st century practice contexts.

Additional information

Special Issue: ACMHN's 44th International Mental Health Nursing Conference Mental Health is a Human Right 24–26 October 2018 Pullman Cairns International, Cairns, Australia.

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