Video game addiction associated with mental health problems

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.”

Photo courtesy Science news for kids

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.




4 responses to “Video game addiction associated with mental health problems

  1. Excellent warning – and one every parent should pay attention to. I am an avid gamer and think there is a lot of good that can come from playing video games. But I also know that as a parent, it is my job to set the limits. Just as eating an apple a day can keep the doctor away, but eating ten pounds of apples a day will make one very sick, age appropriate video games played in moderation can yield positive benefits. Studies have shown surgeons who play video games have better manual dexterity, yielding better results in surgery, than those who don’t.

    In our house, we have begun rigidly enforcing the “two hours of screen time” rule and it hasn’t been easy. I have come to realize that two hours of video games can feel like just fifteen minutes to the young player. As the adult on site, it is my responsibility to assure my kids aren’t playing too much and that they are also getting outside, reading a book, and engaging in social activity. It’s all about that elusive quest for balance.

  2. thanks for the response, auntfun!

  3. Kids will really have poor grades if and when parents don’t monitor their playing time. Parents also play a key role in balancing their playing time and school. Yes I once was a gamer that played long hours(15 hours a day to be exact) my break time would only be at school. I’ll be doing all my assignments at school so when I get home, I’ll just sit in front of my game.

    The bad thing about this is my health declined and my hygiene was really bad. I don’t blame my parents because my mind was already aware.

    So please, if you’re a parent or an adult, be watchful of the younger people in your family.

  4. Games have ratings. However people ignore that. A lot wouldn’t look at the game rating and buy it for their kids because they think its okay. Developers shouldn’t be blamed with the video game addiction because this isn’t their fault. They follow protocols in making video games a fun and enjoyable recreation.

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