Pathological gaming, or video game addiction, has been associated with
problems in youth including depression and poor grades. There may be
identifiable risk factors for becoming a problem gamer and suffering
negative outcomes, according to a new study, “Pathological Video Game Use Among Youths: A Two-Year Longitudinal Study,” in the February 2011
issue of Pediatrics (published online January 17).
The study looked at
more than 3,000 children in elementary and secondary school in
Singapore. Researchers assessed pathological gaming, weekly amount of
game play, impulsiveness, social competence, depression, social phobia,
anxiety and depression. The prevalence of pathological gaming was
similar to other countries – about 9 percent of young gamers. Children
and teens who played more video games and who had lower social
competence and greater impulsiveness were at higher risk of becoming
pathological gamers. In addition to being a coping strategy for children
who are already depressed or anxious, study authors suggest gaming can
also increase some mental health problems. For example, a child’s
baseline impulsiveness may become more pronounced once he or she is
engaged in pathological gaming.
The authors identified depression,
anxiety, social phobias and lower school performance as likely outcomes
of problem gaming. Those who stopped being pathological gamers ended up
with lower levels of these same symptoms, but still higher levels than
the control group of children who never became pathological gamers.
The American Academy of
Pediatrics is an organization of 60,000 primary care pediatricians,
pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists
dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children,
adolescents and young adults. For more information, visit www.aap.org.