Objective: A number of studies about attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and Internet video game play have examined the prefrontal cortex and dopaminergic system. Stimulants such as methylphenidate (MPH), given to treat ADHD, and video game play have been found to increase synaptic dopamine. We hypothesized that MPH treatment would reduce Internet use in subjects with co-occurring ADHD and Internet video game addictions.
Methods: Sixty-two children (52 males and 10 females), drug-naive, diagnosed with ADHD, and Internet video game players, participated in this study. At the beginning of the study and after 8 weeks of treatment with Concerta (OROS methylphenidate HCl, Seoul, Korea), participants were assessed with Young's Internet Addiction Scale, Korean version (YIAS-K), Korean DuPaul's ADHD Rating Scale, and the Visual Continuous Performance Test. Their Internet usage time was also recorded.
Results: After 8 weeks of treatment, the YIAS-K scores and Internet usage times were significantly reduced. The changes in the YIAS-K scores between the baseline and 8-week assessments were positively correlated with the changes in total and inattention scores from the Korean DuPaul's ADHD Rating Scale, as well as omission errors from the Visual Continuous Performance Test. There was also a significant difference in the number of omission errors among non-Internet-addicted, mildly Internet addicted, and severely Internet addicted participants.
Discussion: We suggest that Internet video game playing might be a means of self-medication for children with ADHD. In addition, we cautiously suggest that MPH might be evaluated as a potential treatment of Internet addiction.