Study: Video Games Linked to Mental Health Problems

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Recently gaming has been in the news because of its positive health benefits, including increased exercise and help with getting individuals with ADHD to focus, but a new study is saying that there is a link between video games and addictive behavior and additional mental health problems. The report, which will be released in the February issue of Pediatrics according to CNN, studied 3,000 fourth through eighth graders and discovered that nine percent had “pathological gaming” issues which often lead to depression, poor grades and anxiety. Children who have a harder time fitting in are more at risk, and nine to 12 percent of boys (versus three to five percent of girls) qualified as addicted to gaming, Reuters reported.

Critics of the study do point out that they believe Dr. Gentile’s methodology was poorly designed, leading to flawed results. Reuters reported that International Gaming Research Unit director Mark Griffiths believes that the study looked at preoccupation instead of addiction. The survey asked the children questions ranging from simple items like if they neglected household chores to play more video games or did poorly on a school assignment or test because they chose to game to more complex issues like if played video games as a means of escape from their real life problems. If the kids answered yes to more than half of these questions, Griffiths said, they were labeled “pathological gamers,” and he argues some of the questions don’t necessarily mean addiction. He argued that most psychologists and psychiatrists do not agree with the conclusion as an accepted diagnosis.”If nine percent of children were genuinely addicted to video games there would be video game addiction clinics in every major city!” he said in an e-mail to the wire service.

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