How much is too much?
A recent study finds that 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.”
Pathological gaming, or video game addiction, has been associated with problems in youth — including depression and poor grades.
A new study to be published in the journal Pediatrics found that there may be identifiable risk factors for becoming a problem gamer and suffering negative outcomes.
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.
How do you know if your child or teen needs professional help?
Plenty of kids fit video games in their lives. But for some, gaming has become an uncontrollable compulsion according to CRC Health Group, a specialized behavioral health care service. Studies estimate that 10 to 15 percent of gamers exhibit signs that meet the World Health Organization’s criteria for addiction.
Just like gambling and other compulsive behaviors, teens can become so enthralled in the fantasy world of gaming that they neglect their family, friends, work, and school. CRC’s website on video game addiction includes five signs that show a gamer needs help, reasons some games are more addicting than others, and treatment options.