The model of the genesis of problematic use presented in the popular media and the writing of interested clinicians is very similar to those found in the substance abuse literature. This substance abuse model suggests that exposure to online gaming leads to dependence, which in turn leads to any number of negative social and psychological outcomes including depression and job-loss. To paraphrase, models like the one shown in Figure 1.1 suggest that if you play games, you get addicted to them, and if you get addicted to them, you get depressed. The communications tradition would characterize this as a “media effects” model, wherein a homogeneous population is exposed to and somewhat uniformly affected by a given medium. Figure 1.1 : Two examples of exposure or “media effects” models of problematic use. The adoption of such a model is quite understandable. Exposure models of this type are parsimonious, have a long tradition in many types of clinical practice, and bring with them a ready-made set of therapeutic techniques and treatment objectives. They are quite clearly effective in treating problems once they arise, but less helpful in identification of personal and environmental predictors and thereby quite monotonic in their approach to prevention. To borrow from the most popular substance abuse prevention campaign in memory, such paradigms seem to indicate that the best defense is also the best treatment: Chapter One : An Introduction 19 abstinence or avoidance, to “just say no”. The functionally reactive rather than predictive nature of exposure models allows them to omit or ignore several important aspects of the phenomena they describe. Media effects models tend to treat the effected populations monolithically, as a homogenous group of consumers upon which media act. Models of this nature rarely account for the role that individual and environmental characteristics might play in the genesis of a pathology. Given the...
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