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Health & Parenting

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Study Identifies Risks for Video Game Addiction

Researchers Say Depression and Anxiety May Be Among the Consequences of Pathological Gaming

Behavioral Issues and Video Games

Video game addiction may feed into other behavioral or emotional issues or cause them.

For example, “maybe your grades aren’t good so you play games to cope, or maybe you play games excessively to the exclusion of other things such as schoolwork,” Gentile says.

In the study, those students who overcame their addiction were less depressed and anxious, and less likely to have social phobias and trouble in school at the end of the study than were gamers who were still playing video games pathologically.

The jury is out on whether or not some games or gaming forums are more addictive than others, he says. “There are some hints that online gamers may be more likely to be pathological gamers, but there is not enough evidence to say anything for sure.”

Violent games may also be more addictive because they tend to turn on the body’s fight or flight response, Gentile says.

The new findings do need to be replicated, but “If parents are feeling like maybe their kid is having a problem, and their grades are going down, maybe gaming is a piece of the puzzle.”

Gentile’s advice? Limit screen time to one to two hours a day.

“Every screen counts as long as not for school purposes,” Gentile says.

Choosing Video Games Over Other Activities

Dina L.G. Borzekowski, an associate professor in the department of health, behavior, and society at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, defines video game addiction as “being stuck in front of the screen and choosing to play video games over many other things.”

It’s not how much time a gamer spends playing his or her favorite games, she says. “A person can play many, many hours and not be an addict.”

“Be aware of how much time your kid is spending playing games,” Borzekowski says, “and whether your kid can get up and go do something else that is fun such as going to their best friend’s birthday party or an opening day game.”

If they can’t, you may have a video game addict on your hands, she says.

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