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Video game addiction linked to depression

Video game addiction among children and teens may lead to the development of psychological disorders such as depression.

Video game addiction linked to depression

Video game addiction among children and teens may lead to the development of psychological disorders such as depression.

To measure the prevalence and length of the problem of pathological video gaming or Internet use, researchers followed 3,034 children and teenagers from Singapore; 743 were in 3rd grade, 711 in 4th grade, 916 in 7th grade and 664 in 8th grade. The children came from six primary schools and six secondary schools. Five of the schools participating were all-boys' schools. Almost 2,200 of the study participants were male. The children - although not their parents or teachers - were surveyed annually from 2007 through 2009.

Eighty-three percent of the participants reported playing video games sometimes, and another 10 percent said they had played video games in the past. The average time spent playing video games was around 20.5 to 22.5 hours a week. In this study about 9 percent of the children surveyed qualified as being pathological video gamers, those playing video games more than 30 hours a week.

The study showed that children who are more likely to become addicted to video games are those who spend a lot of hours playing these games, have trouble fitting in with other kids and are more impulsive than children who aren't addicted. Once addicted to video games, children were more likely to become depressed, anxious or have other social phobias. Not surprisingly, children who were hooked on video games also saw their school performance suffer. It did not appear to be a habit they were either willing or able to give up. Of the kids in the study who were excessive gamers at the start, about 84 percent of them continued to be addicted to gaming at the end of the study. Those who reduced the amount of time playing games during the course of the study also reported a reduction in their levels of depression and anxiety.

The American Association of Pediatrics recommends that elementary school age children engage in no more than one hour of screen time a day, and high school students no more than two.

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