Nearly one in 10 kids and teens who play video games show behavioral signs that may indicate addiction, a new study has found.
The findings are based on a Harris Poll survey of 1,178 American youths (ages 8-18).
Researchers at Iowa State University (ISU) and the National Institute on Media and the Family found that some gamers show at least six symptoms of gambling addiction such as lying to family and friends about how much they play games, using the games to escape their problems and becoming restless or irritable when they stop playing.
They may also skip homework to play videogames or spend too much time playing the games and do poorly in school.
"Although the general public uses the word addiction, clinicians often report it as pathological use. This is the first study to tell us the national prevalence of pathological play among youth gamers, and it is almost 1 in 10," said Gentile, who is also director of research for the Minneapolis-based National Institute on Media and the Family.
"What we mean by pathological use is that something someone is doing -- in this case, playing video games -- is damaging to their functioning. It's not simply doing it a lot. It has to harm functioning in multiple ways," Gentile said.
Gentile analyzed data collected in a January 2007 Harris Poll survey. He compared respondents' video game play habits to the symptoms established in The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders for pathological gambling. Gamers were classified as "pathological" if they exhibited at least six of 11 symptoms.
The pathological gamers in the study played video games 24 hours per week, about twice as much as non-pathological gamers.
They also were more likely to have video game systems in their bedrooms, reported having more trouble paying attention in school, received poorer grades in school, had more health problems, were more likely to feel "addicted," and even stole to support their habit.
The study also found that pathological gamers were twice as likely to have been diagnosed with attention problems such as Attention Deficit Disorder or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.