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Almost one in 10 video gamers show signs of addiction

By Jason Le Miere     Apr 21, 2009 in Health
A new study has found that 8.5 percent of video game players display signs of addictive behavior, including lying to friends and family and stealing to fuel their addiction.
The report, by researchers at Iowa State University and the National Institute on Media and the Family, studied 1,178 American youths aged between 8 and 18. The findings showed that some displayed at least six of the same symptoms of gambling addiction, which makes them "pathological," according to the American Psychiatric Association.
Signs included using games as an escape mechanism, feelings of irritability and restlessness when not playing and skipping school work and chores to play games.
Dr. Douglas Gentile, an assistant professor of psychology at Iowa State University, said that he hoped the study would raise awareness of the issue.
"While the medical community currently does not recognize video game addiction as a mental disorder," he said, "hopefully this study will be one of many that allow us to have an educated conversation on the positive and negative effects of video games."
Also included in the study was the fact that 88 percent of those aged between 8 and 18 play video games, whilst more boys (12 percent) were addicted than girls (3 percent). Those who were deemed addicted, played video games 24 hours a week and tended to do worse in school.
Gentile said that he was surprised by the extent of the problem the results suggested.
"I thought this was parental histrionics — that kids are playing a lot and parents don't understand the motivation, so they label it an addiction," he said. "It turns out that I was wrong."
The researchers conceded that the study leaves many questions on the subject unanswered, such as warning signs or how the problem should be treated.
"It yields far more questions than answers," Gentile said,
David Walsh, president of the National Institute on Media and the Family, said that he hopes the American Psychiatric Association takes up the issue to provide further insight.
"This gives us an idea of the extent of the problem," he said. "We don’t know which kids are more at risk than others and we don't know how long it lasts. If we ask a year later would they all have the same patterns?"
However, some other experts have voiced their skepticism over the study's findings. Mark Griffiths, director of the International Gaming Research Unit at Nottingham Trent University in the United Kingdom, said that he believes the research exaggerates the extent of the problem.
"In all honesty, if there really were 8.5 percent of children who were genuinely addicted, there would be treatment clinics all over America," he said.
More about Video games, Addiction, American psychiatric association
 
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