Subjects: Behavioral health
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.
Iowa 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.