Study Says Video Game Addiction Causes Mental Problems in Kids, Not Everyone Is Convinced
Recently published in Pediatrics Journal, said study examined 3,000 children in Singapore over the course of two years. Researchers found that about one out of every ten children ultimately became addicted to video games, and couldn't break the habit. Although many of these game-addled kids had behavioral issues already, video games appeared to incite additional psychological problems. "When children became addicted, their depression, anxiety, and social phobias got worse, and their grades dropped," said Iowa State University's Douglas A. Gentile, who worked on the study. "When they stopped being addicted, their depression, anxiety, and social phobias got better."
Not everyone, however, is convinced of the study's validity. Mark Griffiths, who leads the International Gaming Research Unit at Nottingham Trent University, said that Gentile's research conflated gaming preoccupation with full-blown addiction. "My own research has shown that excessive video game play is not necessarily addictive play and that many video gamers can play for long periods without there being any negative detrimental effects," Griffiths countered. In an e-mail to Reuters, Griffiths added that the majority of psychologists and psychiatrists still do not accept the notion that video games can be addictive, or even harmful to children. "If nine-percent of children were genuinely addicted to video games, there would be video game addiction clinics in every major city!" he wrote.
Besides, as CNN pointed out yesterday morning, this study's scope was limited to school-age kids in Singapore, so it's hard to say whether or not its results apply to different cultures and societies. Moderation, of course, is always recommended; the AMA advises limiting gaming to two hours a day, and previous studies have shown that violent games can exacerbate mental illnesses in kids with pre-existing conditions. But you still might want to wait for more corroborative evidence before setting fire to your kid's Xbox.