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Study: 1 In 10 Kids At Risk Of Addiction To Video Games

sjohnson
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Posted January 20, 2011 - By Stephen Johnson

Gaming Addiction: Fact Or Fiction?According to a study published in the medical journal Pediatrics (my third favorite medical journal), one in ten kids is addicted to video games, and that addiction causes anxiety, depression and poor school performance.

The study followed the gaming habits of 3,000 kids (from grades 3, 4, 7 and 8) from the U.S., Singapore and Hong Kong for two years, and found that nearly one in ten was at risk of becoming "pathologically addicted" to gaming.

Game addiction is not an accepted psychological condition, but for the purposes of this study, it was defined as playing more than 31 hours of games a week. I don't know about you, but I would consider that pretty pathological -- that's practically a full time job!

The study found that hardcore gamer-kids have trouble socializing with other children. They're more impulsive, more likely to be depressed or anxious and more likely to have social phobias than the sampling of non "addicted" kids.

"What we've known from other studies is that video gaming addiction looks similar to other addictions. But what wasn't clear was what comes before what. Gaming might be a secondary problem. It might be that kids who are socially awkward, who aren't doing well in school, get depressed and then lose themselves into games. We haven't really known if gaming is important by itself, or what puts kids at risk for becoming addicted," said Douglas A. Gentile, an associate professor of psychology at Iowa State University in Ames.

So which came first, the game addiction or the depression? Although in a sense this is an "anti-game" study, it's hard to find much fault with the conclusion, but like Gentile said, are depressed kids more likely to play games or do games make kids depressed?  I'm inclined to think that depressed and anxious kids are more likely to play games in order to gain some kind of release from their problems, but I think that playing games a lot might make kids more depressed and anxious overall, and it probably doesn't help. The study confirms this:

"We found that in kids who started gaming pathologically, depression and anxiety got worse. And, when they stopped gaming, the depression lifted. It may be that these disorders [co-exist], but games seem to make the problem worse," said Gentile.

Whatdo you guys think about the idea of game addiction?

Study: 1 In 10 Kids At Risk Of Addiction To Video Games
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