Nine per cent of kids become gaming addicts

A two-year study of more than 3,000 school children in Singapore suggests that excessive gaming causes real social and educational problems for some children.

Results from the study conducted by researchers from the Media Research Lab at Iowa State University show that around eight per cent of children can develop a gaming addiction. These kids often had pre-existing behavioural problems, but playing video games adds to their problems .

According to the study, "Greater amounts of gaming, lower social competence, and greater impulsivity seemed to act as risk factors for becoming pathological gamers, whereas depression, anxiety, social phobias, and lower school performance seemed to act as outcomes of pathological gaming."

"When children became addicted, their depression, anxiety, and social phobias got worse, and their grades dropped," said lead author Douglas A. Gentile of the Media Research Lab.

The study was performed with a general elementary and secondary school population in Singapore, including 3034 children in grades 3, 4 , 7 and 8.

Several factors for developing or overcoming pathological gaming were measured, including weekly amount of game play, impulsivity, social competence, depression, social phobia, anxiety, and school performance.

There is some debate as to what constitutes an addiction, so researchers used creiteria similar to those applied to gambling.

The study found that the rate of 'pathological gaming' was around 9 per cent - a figure similar to that found in studies in other countries

It concludes that "video game 'addiction' is similar to other addictive behaviors (sic), demonstrating that it can last for years and is not solely a symptom of comorbid disorders.