Video Game Addiction Unhealthy for Youth
A new study finds that one in ten youths, aged 8 to 18, show unhealthy and pathological signs of video game addiction. Researcher Douglas Gentile, from Iowa State University, found that 8.5 percent of 1,178 youths studied are addicted to video games, using the same standards for addiction used for pathological gamblers.
"Pathological Video Game Use among Youth 8 to 18: A National Study,” shows that one in ten youths, because of video game addiction, may be suffering from family, social, school or psychological damage because of video game addiction. The statistics, related to video game addiction, were extracted from a Harris Poll Survey; showing an alarming number of youth are addicted to video games.
Gentile, who is director of research for the Minneapolis-based National Institute on Media and the Family, says, "This is the first study to tell us the national prevalence of pathological play among youth gamers, and it is almost 1 in 10.” Addictions, termed “pathological behaviors” by clinicians, imply unhealthy outcomes. Gentile explains, "It's not simply doing it a lot. It has to harm functioning in multiple ways." In the case of video game addiction, the youth studied were found to have attention deficits in school, lower grades, were inclined to steal, and had more health problems.
Youth included in the study played video games twenty-four hours per week. They were likely to have video games in the bedroom. Youth addicted to video games were also twice as likely to have been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
Gentile says he did not believe video game addiction could exist, so he started researching in 1999. He subsequently published, "Violent Video Game Effects on Children and Adolescents: Theory, Research, and Public Policy" (2007, Oxford University Press). Finding that parents often complain of children who are addicted to video games, he decided to study things further.
According to Gentile, “I measured the way you measure pathological gambling and the way it harms functioning, and was surprised to find that a substantial number of gamers do rise to that level (of pathological addiction).
The study begs for more research. Video game addiction may be a sign of an underlying problem, such as depression. Gentile is continuing his studies about the widespread problem of video game addiction among youth, in hopes of pinpointing who is at risk and what the symptoms of video game addiction encompass.
The study shows that video game addiction is real, that boys are affected more than girls, and that one in ten youths display unhealthy behaviors associated with playing video games.
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