Hooked on Video Games

May 15th, 2009 | Sources: Psychological Science, Washington Post

A national study has revealed that 8.5% of US kids aged 8 to 18 are addicted to video games, with many lying about how much they play, skimping on homework and struggling to cut back.

wearesonotdoinghomeworkIowa State University’s Douglas Gentile published the findings in Psychological Science.

“For some kids, they play in such a way that it becomes out of balance. They’re damaging other areas of their lives,” Gentile told the Washington Post.

Gentile adapted criteria for the diagnosis of pathological gambling into a set of questions about video gaming. The questions were then added to a 2007 Harris Poll involving 1,178 children and teens.

He classified players as “pathological” if they reported having 6 or more of 11 symptoms on his list.

Symptoms included irritability or restlessness when gaming was reduced, devoting increasing amounts of time and money to video games in order to get the same degree of excitement, skipping homework or chores to play games, lying about playing time, and stealing money to pay for new games.

Pathological gamers did worse in school, had more trouble paying attention in class and were more likely to report attention-deficit disorder, according to Gentile. These findings held up after controlling for gender and age.

“It’s not that the games are addictive,” Gentile told the Post. “It’s that some kids use them in a way that is out of balance and harms various other areas of their lives.”

Mark Griffiths, the director of the International Gaming Research Unit at Nottingham Trent University doubted the scale of video game addiction reported by Gentile. “If there really were 8.5% of children who were genuinely addicted, there would be treatment clinics all over America,” he said.



  1. wrthofnino | 15/05/09

    Wow, this article hits so close to home… I blog about this type of thing all the time over at my page http://wrathofnino.wordpress.com!

    I am a recovering Wowaholic (yes, video games ARE an addiction), played for 2 years and almost lost my job, family and wife over my obsession. It was all I could think about, it dominated every waking moment of my conscious, (and unconscious at night) mind.

    After years of emotional neglect, my family had finally had enough… I was grossly overweight, unhealthy, and a pain to deal with on a daily basis. I quit one night after things had finally hit rock bottom… gave away all my stuff, said goodbye to my online “friends” and signed off… been 8 months now and I am so happy! I have lost over 90lbs, my health is back and my relationship with my wife and daughter has never been stronger.

    As to Director Griffiths’ comment about detox center throughout the country… maybe we SHOULD give it a BIT more attention!

    Yes, online gaming addiction DOES exist… still don’t believe me, check out this website too http://www.wowdetox.com… sad testimony to something so devastating and so misunderstood.

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