It was revealed in a recent study today that almost one in ten children are actually ‘addicted’ to their video games. The study showed that greater amounts of gaming, lower social competence, and greater impulsivity seemed to act as risk factors for becoming pathological gamers, whereas depression, anxiety, social phobias, and lower school performance seemed to act as outcomes of pathological gaming.
The study adds important information to the discussion about whether video game “addiction” is similar to other addictive behaviors, demonstrating that it can last for years and is not solely a symptom of comorbid disorders. (Study: http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/cgi/content/abstract/peds.2010-1353v1 )
In the 2-year study of more than 3,000 school children in Singapore, researchers found nearly one in ten were video game “addicts,” and most were stuck with the problem. (Source: http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTRE70G15J20110117?pageNumber=1 )
Douglas Gentile, who runs the Media Research Lab at Iowa State University said: “When children became addicted, their depression, anxiety, and social phobias got worse, and their grades dropped,”
But an independent expert said the study had important flaws.
“My own research has shown that excessive video game play is not necessarily addictive play and that many video gamers can play for long periods without there being any negative detrimental effects,” said Mark Griffiths, director of the International Gaming Research Unit at Nottingham Trent University in the UK.
“If nine percent of children were genuinely addicted to video games there would be video game addiction clinics in every major city!” he said in an e-mail, adding that the concept is not currently an accepted diagnosis among psychiatrists and psychologists.
Part of the problem, Griffiths argued, is that the new work may be measuring preoccupation instead of addiction.