Study finds new evidence for video game addiction

A new study by an international research team has found more evidence that it really is possible to become addicted to video games.

The more people play, the more likely they are to become addicted, and poor social skills and greater impulsivity are also risk factors.

The two-year study of 3,034 third through eighth grade students in Singapore found around nine percent of gamers were ‘pathological’ by the American Psychiatric Association’s standards for diagnosing gambling addiction.

And some serious problems – including depression, anxiety, social phobias and lower school performance – seemed to result from pathological play.

The researchers report that the percentage of pathological youth gamers in Singapore is similar to other recent video game addiction studies in other countries, including the United States.

“We’re starting to see a number of studies from different cultures – in Europe, the US and Asia – and they’re all showing that somewhere around 7 to 11 percent of gamers seem to be having real problems to the point that they’re considered pathological gamers,” says Douglas Gentile, an Iowa State associate professor of psychology.

“And we define that as damage to actual functioning – their school, social, family, occupational, psychological functioning, etc. To be considered pathological, gamers must be damaging multiple areas of their lives.”

Using the American Psychiatric Association’s “Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders”, the researchers found between 7.6 and 9.9 percent of the student sample could be defined as pathological gamers over the two-year period.

Eighty-four percent of thosewho were first classified as pathological gamers were found still to be pathological two years later. However, in that same two-year window, only one percent of the sample became new pathological gamers.

“This study is important because we didn’t know until this research whether some types of children are at greater risk, how long the problem lasts, or whether pathological gaming was a separate problem or simply a symptom of some other problem – such as depression,” says Angeline Khoo, associate professor of psychological studies at the National Institute of Education in Singapore.