An Iowa State University researcher has released a study he says is the first to report on video game addiction. Doug Gentile studied the gaming patterns of some 1,200 kids age 8 to 18, and used the same definition used for problem gambling.
Gentile says the addiction is not based on how much they play, but is based on the game playing showing damage in multiple areas of their lives. Under that definition, he says 8.5% showed addictive behavior. Gentile is an assistant professor of psychology, and says there were several areas where the kids reported damage from gaming.
He says they asked the kids if they tried to cut back and the addicted gamers tried to cut back, but couldn’t, which showed psychological conflict. Gentile says the kids reported they felt restless and irritable when they tried to cut back, and they also asked if the gaming led to worse grades in school. Gentile says the kids reported getting worse grades because of their gaming.
The question now is will the kids outgrow the games or see the problem and correct it. Gentile says they don’t know the answer to that question, as this study simply shows how big the problem is. He says it doesn’t show who is most at risk and how long the problem lasts. Gentile says students may recognize there’s a problem and change it, or may need help changing the problem.
Another question yet to be studied is how much influence parents can have on keeping kids from becoming addicted to video games. Gentile says they know from other studies that when parents set limits on the time and type of games kids play, those kids do get better grades. But he says they don’t know if parent involvement will keep kids from getting addicted to video games.
Gentile says not that this study shows the existence of gaming addiction, they need to study how to best treat the addiction. See the Gentile’s report here .