Study finds pathological behavior can cause children real problems
MONDAY, April 20 (HealthDay News) -- A sizable number of young video game players -- fully 8.5 percent -- exhibit signs of addiction to gaming, a new study has found.
These kids aren't just playing a lot. Their gaming interferes with school performance, disrupts interaction with family and friends and poses health problems, the study reveals.
Douglas A. Gentile, a developmental psychologist and an assistant professor at Iowa State University in Ames, said the study is the first to document the prevalence of video game addiction using a nationally representative sample of children and adolescents.
"What's most concerning to me is really the total percentage, just the vast number of kids that are having real problems in their lives because they play games, and they may not know how to stop it," said Gentile, whose study appears in the May edition of Psychological Science.
Experts don't agree on whether such a thing as "video game addiction" really exists. At present, it is not listed as a mental disorder in the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. The next update of that manual, which describes criteria for diagnosing various psychiatric disorders, is due out in 2012.
"I think we're at the same place now with video gaming as we were with alcoholism 40 years ago," said Gentile, noting that decades of research finally showed that alcoholism is a disease.
When Gentile began studying video game addiction in 1999, he, too, was a skeptic. "Addiction has to mean you're damaging your functioning and not just in one area of your life," he said. He was surprised to see that, in fact, the data showed that kids were exhibiting that level of damage.
The new study is based on data from a nationwide survey if 1,178 U.S. children and teens -- aged 8 to 18 -
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