The International Association for the Study of Game Addictions organizing committee is honored to invite all professionals and researchers working in the field of addictions to the INTERNATIONAL CONFERENCE ON CLINICAL RESEARCH ON GAMES AND OTHER INFORMATIONAL BEHAVIOURAL ADDICTIONS. EFFECTIVE METHODS OF PREVENTION, THERAPY & REHABILITATION that will be held in Cairo on September 17, 2022. 

 A new conference is in the series: VIRTUAL WORLD ADDICTIONS.

The conference aims to bring together professionals and researchers in games and other Internet addictions to exchange experiences and clinical research results.

In this way, we can find the most effective therapies, prevention, and rehabilitation methods for adults, teenagers, and children in the case of information behavioural addictions. We aim to bring together professionals from different scientific fields in joint research to improve its accuracy, scope, scientific validity, and practical usefulness.

This conference will include practical workshops on therapy and prevention and presentations followed by clinical case studies, as well as presentations on clinical and neurobiological phenomena we observe and the characteristics of these addictions.

The outcomes of the conferences should be concrete proposals and methodological developments that professionals in mental health, education, and other fields can use in their practice. 

Participation in this event will be valuable and productive for all the addiction-related researchers, professors, doctors, addictologists, addiction counselors, addiction therapists, addiction psychiatrists, addiction specialists, mental health specialists, psychotherapists, clinical psychiatrists, psychologists, psychiatrists, students, graduates, and all consultants employed in addiction rehabilitation centers.

Session 1

Types of informational, behavioural addictions. Relevance and prevalence

Over the past 20 years, thanks to the development of information technology and the internet, the number of active players in both gambling and internet video games has increased hundreds of times. Using information technology to manipulate people’s minds has led to this result. The number of gamers is also growing enormously. 

Active players are ⅓ of the world’s population, 2.3 billion people as of 2017, and by the end of 2021, there were already 3.2 billion players in the world. These are primarily children, teenagers, and young people under 35. 

Over the past 20 years, the gaming industry has increased its revenue by more than 50 times: from an annual income of less than $200M at the end of the ’90s to $100Bn already in 2017 and $180 billion in 2021. 

According to the Gambling Global Market Report (2021), the gambling industry will generate $516.03 billion in 2021. Online gambling, particularly sports betting, is growing exponentially, both in terms of attracting more new players and increasing profits. 

The Global Online Gambling Market is estimated to be USD 57.11 Bn in 2020 and is expected to reach USD 97.69 Bn by 2025, growing at a CAGR of 11.31%.

In 2004 social media SNS Facebook had a start, and till 2016 it had 2,6 billion аctive users worldwide. Statistical analysis shows that there will be more than 4.62 billion social media users worldwide in January 2022, equating to 58.4 percent of the total global population. In 2015 people began spending on SNS on average from 1,5 to 3,7 hours per day. 

Smartphone users have an average of 7.4 social networking applications on their phones.

As the number of active players and users increases, so does the number of problematic and pathological players and users. The gaming and social media industry is a fast-growing and aggressive business. A large part of humanity is already consumed by it, and this market will soon have nowhere to expand. To maintain a competitive edge, companies are working on customer retention strategies on their platforms, that is, to get as many loyal customers as possible. The most loyal consumers of products are dependent players, users, and viewers. Entire marketing departments work to create a habit or addiction in consumers. As a result, they create manipulatively disruptive products and algorithms that can trigger the development of behavioural addictions. At the heart of these addictions is dependence on a particular activity, over which a person loses control in terms of frequency of use and time spent. A pathological craving for these activities emerges, which over time increases to an obsessive compulsion that the individual constantly pursues almost without a struggle of motives. The pathological need becomes dominant, crowding out all other interests, hobbies, activities, and attitudes, covering only basic needs: food, sleep, etc.

As a result, they create manipulative and destructive products and algorithms that can trigger the development of behavioural addictions. Dependence on a particular type of activity is at the basis of these addictions, and control over it is lost by a human, both in terms of frequency of use and time spent. A pathological craving for being engaged in these activities appears and eventually increases to a compulsive urge, which a human constantly carries out without a struggle of motives. The pathological need becomes dominant, replacing all other interests, hobbies, kinds of activity, and relationships, ending up covering just the basic needs: food, sleep, child care, etc.

  • Gambling disorder (GD)
  • Internet gaming disorder (IGD)
  • Social network sites (SNS) addiction
  • Pornography content addiction
  • TV series addiction
  • Impulsive internet buying
  • Other types of internet addiction

Session 2

Clinical and neurobiological features of informational behavioural addictions

So far, the peculiarity of behavioral dependencies is associated with the exercise of game activity and not with the use of psychoactive substances. On the surface, such disorders look like a solid pathological urge to play games, use social networks, watch pornographic content, do shopping online, etc., which dominates over all other needs, with a loss of control over these behaviors. That is why these addictions are called behavioral addictions. However, they are information dependencies in their essence and not in their form, and they appear due to the interaction of information technology with the human mind.

The first and foremost uniqueness of these addictions is that information in its purest form, without the influence of a toxic chemical, can cause addiction. In this case, significant changes occur not only in the behaviour, cognitive functions, emotional and motivational sphere, worldview, and values of the person but also in the structure and functions of the brain. In other words, very heavy addiction may appear as a result of the mind functioning that could destroy a person’s spiritual and intellectual potential, ruin all their relationships and lead to degradation of the individual.

  • addictive syndrome: pathological urge to repeat certain behavior patterns, despite the negative psycho-social consequences as this activity becomes the dominant need;
  • cognitive, emotional, and behavioral impairments (changes);
  • impulsiveness and compulsiveness;
  • altered states of consciousness (dark flow, flow state) in information behavioral addictions as a dependency factor;
  • emotional dysregulation and chronic distress;
  • astheno-depressive syndrome as a result of deep exhaustion of the central nervous system;
  • other clinical manifestations.

Neurobiological research is being carried out to understand changes in brain structure and functioning and to identify potential cognitive and brain disorders associated with behavioural addictions.

  • Neuropsychological – carrying out various behavioral and cognitive tests/tasks for studying disorders, mainly focusing on executive functions. They are often combined with other methods, such as neuroimaging.
  • Neuroimaging using MRI such as:

– the study of functional neural networks relations at rest (rsFC) may allow identifying dysfunction of neural circuits, which is the basis of various neuro-mental disorders;

– the study of functional connections in the brain when performing specific tasks;

– morphometric – structural and morphological changes in the brain are examined.

  • EEG studies – electrical activity in various parts of the cerebral cortex, which appears in the brain of people who suffer from gaming addictions.
  • Neurochemical studies of changes in the synthesis of neurotransmitters using a PET.

Session 3

Treatment and rehabilitation

In this session, we will look at the effectiveness of different individual, family, and group, psychotherapy trends in helping people suffering from various types of informational, behavioral addictions., as well as effective methods of social and psychological rehabilitation. Information behavioral addictions result in various and sometimes very serious negative consequences for the mental and physical health of a human, personality, relationships with family members, friends, and work colleagues, and are detrimental to exercise of professional activities and education, up to the occurrence of complete social maladjustment, the commitment of suicides, and spiritual and moral degradation of the individual.

  • Social negative consequences encompass:

– relationships

– education and professional activities

– financial and economic area

– legal repercussions

  • Impact on physical health
  • Negative consequences for mental health:

– Mood disorders (depression and bipolar disorders)

– Anxiety disorders including panic attacks and social phobias

– Personality disorders

– Sleep disruption

– Substance-use disorders

– Eating Disorder

– Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)

– Irritability, aggression

– Obsessive–compulsive disorder

– Other mental health disorders.

This session will include practical workshops and clinical case presentations.

Session 4

Effective prevention methods

The primary purpose of this session is to initiate an international discussion on effective methods of preventing information behavioral addictions. The current situation is hazardous, and a one-sided approach is predominant in using manipulative and aggressive technologies in the game industry, social networks, and advertising.

On the one hand, these technologies are intensively used, tested, and implemented. Their design, software, and promotion strategies are constantly being improved, and large-scale marketing and neuromarketing research is being conducted. On the other hand, we face a deficient awareness not only among the general public but also among the scientific and professional community on realizing the harm and negative social and psychological consequences of participation in gambling and internet video games, the problematic use of social networks and the influence of advertising.

It is necessary to raise public awareness about the consequences of the activities mentioned above and conduct large-scale multifaceted scientific research to initiate discussions and restrictions on the use of manipulative information technologies at the interstate level.

Session 5

Solving the problem of informational behavioural addictions on a global social level

Changing the format of the organisation of life and relationships between people in society from a consumer to a creative one.

We face the fact that it is impossible in principle to solve the problem of the use and widespread proliferation of manipulative information technology in the consumer format of society. It is a multi-billion-dollar business that is supported at the governmental level around the world. Neither ethics, nor culture, nor religion can stop its exponential growth. Companies enrich themselves at the expense of lives and development of people, both children and adults. In the consumer format, material profit comes first, while in the creative format, human life and multifaceted development of a human is of priority number 1.

In the Creative Society we will be able to direct the potential of design production and programming of the game industry, social networks, and other internet resources to serve the purposes of development, learning, and uniting people. People will be able, through the development of information technology, to unite their potential quickly and efficiently, to exchange experiences, to share vital information, to find solutions to the most important problems, to accelerate learning and to grow in any desired direction.

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