Can Kids Become Addicted to Video Games?

Can Kids Become Addicted to Video Games?

Carrie McBride
Apr 30, 2009

You might joke that your kid is "addicted" to video games, but is this actually possible? Unfortunately, yes, say researchers studying whether gaming can be considered a true behavioral addiction like gambling. The amount of time spent playing video games isn't the only indicator of addiction: "it has to damage multiple levels of functioning, such as family, social, school, occupational, and psychological functioning."

The researchers use a scary term for kids they'd classify as addicted: "pathological gamers." They conducted a nation-wide survey of over 1,000 kids to get information about how often and how long kids play, where in the home they play, what their school grades are, household rules related to playing, whether kids used video games to escape from their problems, whether they skipped chores or homework to play, and a host of other related questions.

This is how the researchers described pathological gamers: "Pathological gamers had been playing for more years, played more frequently and for more time, knew more of the video-game rating symbols, received worse grades in school, were more likely to report having trouble paying attention in school, were more than twice as likely to have been diagnosed with an attention-deficit disorder, had more health problems that were likely to have been exacerbated by long hours of playing video games (e.g., hand pain and wrist pain), and were more likely to report having felt "addicted" to games and having friends they thought were "addicted" to games. Pathological gamers were also significantly more likely to have been involved in physical fights in the past year. Also, as predicted, pathological gamers were more likely to have a video-game system in their bedrooms."

You can read the full article, published in Psychological Science here. We'd like to suggest a study on whether gaming addiction is inherited!

(Via Scientific America)

Photo: by Flickr member Sean Drellinger licensed for use under Creative Commons.

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