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Game Addicted Kids Can Suffer From Depression, Anxiety

We're always interested in various studies that address a video game's potential impact on players.

Some results have proven very insightful and worthy of discussion, while others make us wonder if research grant money wouldn't be better spent elsewhere. Case in point:

As cited by QJ.net, a professor of psychology at Iowa State University, Dr. Gentile, has stated that recent results prove children suffering from video game addiction "are more likely to suffer depression, anxiety and even social phobias." Note that this apparently only applies to addicts and not just every kid who plays a game.

According to the study in question, nearly 10% of the game-playing population of children were "pathological players;" that addiction was determined in about the same way they determine gambling addiction. The questionnaire used in the study included questions like-

"Have you ever lied about gaming?"

"Have you ever skipped school to play games?"

I don't have the full clinical results in front of me, and I suppose I could cite a bunch of other studies proving that games help a person's creativity, reflexes, and problem-solving skills (all of which using adults as the test subjects), but there's something more annoying at play here.

I'm only a lowly psychology degree-holder but even I know that all forms of addiction typically generate depression and anxiety. That's sort of the hallmark of addiction. Secondly, the "social phobia" part - and I'm going to go out on a limb here - may have come first. Although things have changed today, gaming still remains an option for entertaining oneself when alone...and the reason many kids in the 80s played video games was often because they weren't exactly the most popular students in school.

What I'm trying to say is that outside influences and obvious factors seem to be clouding the issue, here. I'd also be very interested to know what it takes to qualify as a "pathological player."

Tags: games, video games, game addiction, gaming depression

2/27/2012 9:50:38 AM Ben Dutka

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Comments (31 posts)

BikerSaint
Monday, February 27, 2012 @ 10:10:59 AM
Reply

I don't this would even happen if some parents realized that a gaming system ISN'T their personal all day babysitting service.

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Underdog15
Monday, February 27, 2012 @ 11:01:34 AM

"Cable Guy" anyone?

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Temjin001
Monday, February 27, 2012 @ 10:14:40 AM
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hehe Dr. Gentile =p

oh and I'm sure MS get's all kinds of pics like that one above with their KINECT home survelliance service no one knows it's performing.



Last edited by Temjin001 on 2/27/2012 10:19:44 AM

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gumbi
Monday, February 27, 2012 @ 10:48:35 AM
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Interesting. I did a similar study and found that children suffering depression, anxiety and social phobias are more likely to become addicted to video games.


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Jawknee
Monday, February 27, 2012 @ 10:57:09 AM
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"even I know that all forms of addiction typically generate depression and anxiety"

This.

Having kids now, you learn be dos and don'ts of child rearing. Sitting them in front of the television in general too much or too early will do the same thing. It's not just games. Like Biker said, the TV should not act as a baby sitter. That is the problem, not the games themselves.

Last edited by Jawknee on 2/27/2012 10:58:02 AM

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telly
Monday, February 27, 2012 @ 12:13:29 PM

Exactly. Limits are necessary for kids for virtually everything, and that includes video games. Some kids can get too into their games? It's on the parent to make sure it doesn't reach that point.

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Underdog15
Monday, February 27, 2012 @ 10:57:52 AM
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Addictions in general lead to yada yada yada. So.....

i dunno... I read a headline like this, and I think, "No freakin' sh!t". I'm pretty sure you could have learned just as much from watching the movie, "Cable Guy". lol

I long for the day people stop blaming video games, television, movies, internet, snack food, junk food, comic books, aggressive sports, negative music, etc. etc. etc. and place the blame SQUARELY with the parents who -SHOULD- have control over -ALL OF THAT-.

I suppose blaming our psychological problems on inanimate things does make us feel better and free of guilt... but seriously.

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Highlander
Monday, February 27, 2012 @ 12:55:14 PM

Blaming games also allows us to avoid the realization that the kids probably had these problems before but they had not yet been diagnosed. That way we can blame the games instead of considering our own role in their depression, anxiety or other behavioral issue.

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Naksy
Monday, February 27, 2012 @ 11:00:17 AM
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I play games irrespective of my mood... Take that!

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Highlander
Monday, February 27, 2012 @ 11:14:36 AM
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I have no psychology degree, but I do have a lifetime of experience and thanks to parenting a child with multiple issues, I have probably researched things like this about as much as anyone studying the field has.

The first thought that comes to mind is that these may have been pre-existing conditions. Certainly depression and anxiety have great co-morbidity with things like ADD. Social phobias are not far behind, and neither are obsessive compulsive tendencies. Hell, I can tell you most of that from personal experience, never mind the personal research over the last decade.

But the questions on the survey?

"Have you ever lied about gaming?"

"Have you ever skipped school to play games?"

Are you kidding me? That's like the old 'joke' about a lawyer badgering a witness with questions like "So, Mr Smith, when did you stop beating your wife?". The questions are so loaded that any response becomes a data point in the series.

ADD/ADHD, depression, anxiety, OCD and other disorders like this are at least partially linked with the reward and motivation processes in the brain. Addictive behavior that is not chemically bases is driven by these same things and video games are designed to produce a constant stream of small rewards and motivational events that draw the player back in over and over. It's never been a surprise to me that people get 'hooked' on games, nor has it ever been a surprise that folks with disorders of various kinds (diagnosed or otherwise, moderate, mild or otherwise) find games to be compelling. Because, if *nothing* else in their life pings that reward/motivation system - games do. Let's face it, compared to drugs, alcohol and other forms of addiction, games are pretty bloody benign.

Studies like this do nothing to get at the underlying mechanisms or reasons and simply reinforce the stereotypes and labels. As such they are awful science, and terrible medicine.

Last edited by Highlander on 2/27/2012 11:16:36 AM

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matt99
Monday, February 27, 2012 @ 11:35:57 AM

Excellent post, studies like these do a disservice to people suffering from these conditions. And in addition to the reward and motivation system I would also add that many people who suffer from anxiety and depression turn to video games as a way of distracting themselves from their feelings, thoughts, etc.

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Underdog15
Monday, February 27, 2012 @ 11:59:37 AM

I just realized... if you re-mix the letters in OCD, you get COD.

Totally unrelated.

ADD? me? noooooo....

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BikerSaint
Monday, February 27, 2012 @ 12:00:29 PM

matt99,
Hell, I'm not sure if I'm normal or not, but......I game every day to distract myself from life's usual bullsh!t.

And I'd go outside a whole lot more, if only the graphics were better......

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Underdog15
Monday, February 27, 2012 @ 12:13:37 PM

"And I'd go outside a whole lot more, if only the graphics were better...... "

LOL!

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Highlander
Monday, February 27, 2012 @ 12:53:59 PM

Matt,

Thanks. and regarding people turning to games as a distraction or escape; I agree 100%. I do it myself, sometimes more than others, and I always know when I am down, because my game time goes way up in response. Again, I don't understand why that would surprise anyone (I'm sure it doesn't surprise you) since games are always billed as escapism.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Monday, February 27, 2012 @ 3:20:16 PM

Great post Highlander. It's difficult to nail down the coorelation with stuff like this when the questions are loaded. Have I ever skipped school to play a game? Yes I have but I can count the number of times on one hand.

As an aside, when I'm down my gaming time goes down. People are different and if they want to establish trends the studies themselves need work.

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Highlander
Monday, February 27, 2012 @ 3:39:44 PM

Yeah Worlds, that question about cutting class. Perhaps the baseline should have been do you ever cut class? Have you ever cut class to watch TV? Have you ever cut class to go to the mall with friends? Have you ever.... before asking the game related option, that would give context to the answer.

Love your new avatar BTW. Very awesome indeed.

I've always like this image of Tifa (see avatar). Don't worry folks, Sophitia will be back tomorrow... ;)

Last edited by Highlander on 2/27/2012 3:44:09 PM

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cLoudou
Monday, February 27, 2012 @ 12:25:56 PM
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Oh Gawd, I'm an addict.

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AcHiLLiA
Monday, February 27, 2012 @ 1:07:10 PM
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If u mix in drugs and alcohol, problems will much rise. I do blame some part of gaming when it comes to kids, most eat, seat and play for a long period time, eventually those kind of kids will suffer a overweight problem in a long term if they keep at it, but smart parents will eventually do the right thing- balance out habits to their kids.

Last edited by AcHiLLiA on 2/27/2012 1:21:25 PM

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Highlander
Monday, February 27, 2012 @ 1:58:27 PM

Yeah, right, because kids were never overweight before video games, right? Oh, wait I mean TV, no wait, I mean music, radio, moving pictures, moveable type,...

Last edited by Highlander on 2/27/2012 1:59:24 PM

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bigrailer19
Monday, February 27, 2012 @ 2:21:55 PM

I think you read that wrong highlander. What I got was that sometimes this provokes that situation. Not that games are the cause of it. Which is absolutely true. If you're not active, typically there is health issues involved, n that doesn't have to be just weight issues either.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Monday, February 27, 2012 @ 3:27:09 PM

Highlander is saying there's always something to blame, but Alexander is right that without some regulation of gaming habits in our youth it can contribute to bad habits. With great games come great responsibility when behavioral issues are at stake. That's not to say games are dangerous though, people will find SOMETHING to get addicted to if they aren't helped with their conditions.

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SolidFantasy
Monday, February 27, 2012 @ 2:13:31 PM
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Strange, I had some minor depression and anxiety issues when I was around 13 and to this day I'm still a klutz around other people. I don't think it had anything to do with video games, but I'm not sure what else it could have been.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Monday, February 27, 2012 @ 3:15:51 PM

I have severe, diagnosed anxiety issues but as I said below gaming never became a problem. I think these studies are dangerous because people think there could exist hard and fast rules about how things affect people.

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Nlayer
Monday, February 27, 2012 @ 2:24:35 PM
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I don't have any solid evidence or anything. But, I've noticed many people who are creative seem to be a little more on the depressed side. So perhaps games give creativity which also comes with some kind of depression? Again, this is just from my experience. And I don't see anything wrong with it.

Video games might play a part, but I'm sure that form of entertainment is not alone in giving these problems.

Last edited by Nlayer on 2/27/2012 2:25:56 PM

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WorldEndsWithMe
Monday, February 27, 2012 @ 3:23:41 PM

Creativity does often come out of strife and suffering but I don't think gaining creative ideas from games (which is very easy) results in suffering outside of some anxiety over the question "How can I implement this fantastic idea in my own way?" Just my two cents.

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WorldEndsWithMe
Monday, February 27, 2012 @ 3:14:20 PM
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It's kind of funny because I have a massively addictive personality, and I love gaming but I've never had that problem. A 3 hour gaming session for me is pretty damn long these days and rarely happens. I'll be like "I've got all day to play my backlog yay" and then I'm onto something else after a couple hours.

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Spanky
Monday, February 27, 2012 @ 3:39:54 PM
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Didn't read all the comments ,but, we had this problem with our son. He realized on hi own that it was a problem and he chose on his own to sell all of his gaming stuff. Online COD was his downfall.

I keep the PS3 in my room and he seldom plays it to keep from gettin "hooked" again.

This said certain people have addictive personalities and the video games themselves are NOT the problems it's the lack of self denial, and discipline that creates the REAL issues.

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NiteKrawler
Monday, February 27, 2012 @ 6:45:07 PM
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Who does all these studies? Captain Obvious?

This just in: New study finds that extreme sports and higher average number of broken bones is linked.

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Neo_Aeon666
Monday, February 27, 2012 @ 8:00:13 PM
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Hey I remember lying to people saying I was busy just to play D2 when I was in high school! And well I actually once called sick to school so I could finish FFVIII lolll.

But yeah that doesn't prove anything. Playing games was just a hobby I loved more than other stuff. Doing those things don't make you an addict.

I think not eating and nearly dying in front of your game is what I would call addicted. Anyone lies once in a while to do something they really want to do without hurting someone else's feelings. Like: Yeah, I'd rather play a game than hang out with you right now. Some people take that the wrong way yknow XD

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Robochic
Thursday, March 01, 2012 @ 5:44:42 PM
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As a parent i have time restrictions on tv and video games as my son has autism and gets really addicted to things like thomas the tank engine game ectt... with this i have been able to control his level of addiction but he does rock on tetris and angry birds he puts alot of people to shame .

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