Dr Zaheer Hussain

Research and Teaching Blog

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Scholars’ open debate paper on the World Health Organization ICD-11 Gaming Disorder proposal

My latest publication with a group of researchers has now been published in the Journal of Behavioral Addictions. Abstract below;

Concerns about problematic gaming behaviors deserve our full attention. However, we claim that it is far from clear that these problems can or should be attributed to a new disorder. The empirical basis for a Gaming Disorder proposal, such as in the new ICD-11, suffers from fundamental issues. Our main concerns are the low quality of the research base, the fact that the current operationalization leans too heavily on substance use and gambling criteria, and the lack of consensus on symptomatology and assessment of problematic gaming. The act of formalizing this disorder, even as a proposal, has negative medical, scientific, public-health, societal and human rights fallout that should be considered. Of particular concern are moral panics around the harm of video gaming. They might result in premature application of diagnosis in the medical community and the treatment of abundant false-positive cases, especially for children and adolescents. Secondly, research will be locked into a confirmatory approach, rather than an exploration of the boundaries of normal versus pathological. Thirdly, the healthy majority of gamers will be affected negatively. We expect that the premature inclusion of Gaming Disorder as a diagnosis in ICD-11 will cause significant stigma to the millions of children who play video games as part of a normal, healthy life. At this point, suggesting formal diagnoses and categories is premature: the ICD-11 proposal for Gaming Disorder should be removed to avoid a waste of public health resources as well as to avoid causing harm to healthy video gamers around the world.

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The Snoopers Charter: What does it mean for you?

The Investigatory Powers Bill, which was all but passed in to UK law over a week ago, forces Internet providers to keep a full list of Internet connection records for a year and make them available to the Government if asked. This article provides more details about the so called ‘Snoopers Charter’;



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Smartphone Addiction and Associated Psychological Factors

My latest research article on Smartphone Addiction is now available online at the following link;

Smartphone Addiction and Associated Psychological Factors

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Conference Paper: Exploring Problematic Smartphone Use and Associated Psychological Factors

Earlier this month I was invited to present a paper at the 3rd International Congress on Technology Addiction in Istanbul, Turkey. Here is the abstract for the paper I presented;

Exploring Problematic Smartphone Use and Associated Psychological Factors

Dr Zaheer Hussain (University of Derby, UK), Claire Pearson (University of Derby, UK) & Professor David Sheffield (University of Derby, UK).

Background and Aims

Worldwide smartphone usage has greatly increased with research showing that in the UK smartphone penetration has risen from 62% in 2013 to 81% in 2015 (MobileSquared, 2015). Alongside this growth in smartphone usage, research on the influence of smartphones on human behaviour has increased. Smartphone based interventions have proven useful in different contexts, such as diabetes management, physical and healthy eating monitoring (Fjeldsoe, Marshall, & Miller, 2009). However, a growing number of studies have shown that excessive use of smartphones can lead to detrimental consequences (Billieux, Maurage, Lopez-Fernandez, Kuss & Griffiths, 2015). This paper will discuss the research findings of two studies exploring the psychological aspects of smartphone use.


Study 1: A self-selected sample of 256 smartphone users (Mean age = 29.2, SD = 9.49) completed an online survey.

Study 2: A sample of 871 smartphone users ranging from 13 to 69 years of age (mean = 25.06 years, SD = 8.88) completed an online survey.


Study 1: The results revealed that 13.3% of the sample was classified as addicted to their smartphones. Higher narcissism scores and neuroticism levels were linked to addiction.

Study 2: The results revealed a significant relationship between problematic smartphone use and the predictors of time spent on phone, conscientiousness, emotional stability and age.


The findings provide interesting insights in to the psychology of smartphone use and emphasise that there are various factors that influence problematic smartphone use. The development of personalised health interventions may be needed to prevent the negative consequences of smartphone use.