The children -- although not their parents or teachers -- were surveyed annually from 2007 through 2009.
Eighty-three percent of the study volunteers reported playing video games sometimes, and another 10 percent said they had played video games in the past. The average time spent playing video games was around 20.5 to 22.5 hours a week.
But, Gentile pointed out, "A lot of video gaming isn't the same as an addiction. Some kids can play a lot without having an effect on their lives. It's when you see other areas of your child's life suffer that it may be addiction. Parents might notice that a child doesn't have the same friends any more, or that he's just sitting in his room playing video games all the time. Or, there might be a drop in school performance," he said.
In this study about 9 percent of the children surveyed qualified as being pathological video gamers, and Gentile said that number is fairly consistent with the U.S. population's rate of pathological gaming.
Playing video games more than 30 hours a week, lack of social competence, less-than-average empathy and greater impulsivity all contributed to the addiction, the researchers found.
Gentile said the researchers aren't sure how gaming is contributing to depression, anxiety and other social phobias, but in this study, "the gaming precedes the depression. We don't know if it's truly causal, but gaming has an effect on its own, and you can't just ignore gaming and treat depression," he said.
Although pathological video gaming appears to share a number of characteristics with other addictive behaviors, such as pathological gambling, the researchers noted that "pathological gaming" is not yet an established psychological disorder.
"Getting highly involved with video ga
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