By Dr. Brent Conrad
Clinical Psychologist for TechAddiction and author of "How to Help Children Addicted to Video Games (instant download and free email support for parents available here)
In recent years gaming addiction (computer game addiction, console gaming addiction, or even excessive play on portable systems) has received increased attention not only from the media, but also from psychologists, psychiatrists, mental health organizations, and gamers themselves.
Gaming addiction is not yet classified as a mental health disorder or "true" addiction like gambling or alcohol addiction. However, some gamers clearly struggle to keep their playing habits under control and may place more importance on their gaming accomplishments than their happiness and success in the real world (e.g., academic achievement, friendships, relationships, career advancement, health, etc.).
As gaming addiction becomes more of a concern for parents, spouses, families, educators, and those in the mental health community, it is important for those hoping to learn more about this issue to get their gaming addiction statistics and facts from reputable sources.
Below, TechAddiction has summarized some of the more notable articles from the last decade of peer-reviewed published gaming addiction research.
Note that the findings and gaming addiction facts below provide only a brief overview of the main research findings. Be sure to read the complete articles (or read TechAddiction's related articles on Computer Game Addiction, Video Game Addiction Symptoms, & Video Game Addiction Statistics) for a more informed understanding of gaming addiction statistics, facts, and general information.
Personality traits like trait anxiety, sensation seeking, neuroticism, and aggression appear to be related to the development of gaming addiction.
Mehroof, M et al. (2010). Online gaming addiction: The role of sensation seeking, self-control, neuroticism, aggression, state anxiety, and trait anxiety. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 13, 313-316.
Regions of the brain associated with cravings in substance abuse also appear to be activated in gaming addicts when they view images of video games.
Ko, C. et al. (2009). Brain activities associated with gaming urge of online gaming addiction. Journal or Psychiatric Research, 43, 739-747.
There is a difference between "excessive gaming" and "addictive gaming". Two gamers may play for an identical number of hours each day, but their psychological motivation and the meaning that gaming has within their lives can be very different. Gaming addiction should be defined by how much the game negatively impacts others areas of life, not by how much time is spent playing.
Griffiths, M et al. (2010). The role of context in online gaming excess and addiction: Some case study evidence. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, 8, 119-125.
In a volunteer sample, 41% of online gamers acknowledged that they use gaming as an escape. In the same sample, 7% were viewed as "dependent". These gamers possessed several behavioral attributes that are related to more well established forms of addiction (e.g., mood modification, tolerance, & relapse).
Hussain et al. (2009). Excessive use of massively multi-player online role-playing games: A pilot study. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, 7, 563-571.
Most online gamers are male. Among male gamers, more severe online gaming addiction is correlated with older age, lower self-esteem, and lower dissatisfaction with daily life. This relationship did not hold true for female gamers.
Ko et al. (2005). Gender differences and related factors affecting online gaming addiction among Taiwanese adolescents. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 2005, 273 - 277.
Online gamers who viewed themselves as playing excessively (EverQuest in this particular study) appeared to show several core components of addiction such as mood modification, tolerance, withdrawal symptoms, cravings, and relapse.
Chappell et al. (2006). EverQuest - It's just a computer game right? An interpretive phenomenological analysis of online gaming addiction. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, 4, 205 - 216.
Online gaming addiction can be predicted by five critical factors: Curiosity, role-playing, obligation, belonging, and reward.
Hsu et al. (2009). Exploring user experiences as predictors of MMORPG addiction. Computers and Education, 53, 990 - 999.
Individuals with a gaming addiction may use MMORPGs to alleviate negative feelings and moods.
Hussain et al. (2009). The attitudes, feelings, and experiences of online gamers: A qualitative analysis. Cyberpsychology & Behavior, 12, 747-753.
Excessive use of technology is relatively rare. Compared to females, males are more likely to develop a gaming addiction. Boys are more likely to play aggressive or violent games while girls are more likely to play platform and puzzle games.
Griffiths (2008). In Children's Learning in a Digital World. Malden: Blackwell Publishing, 85 - 103.
In Germany, 1.5 - 3.5% of teenage internet users show signs of gaming addiction. Gaming addiction is associated with higher rates of anxiety and depression, and poorer academic performance.
Peukert et al. (2010). Phenomenology, comorbidity, etiology, diagnostics and therapeutic implications for the addictives and their relatives. Psychiatrische Praxix, 37, 219 - 224.
Computer gaming addiction is positively correlated with achievement motivation, sensation-seeking, a positive evaluation of one's intelligence, and a negative evaluation of one's skills in interpersonal relationships.
Zheng et al. (2006). Correlated factors comparison: The trends of computer game addiction and internet relationship addiction. Chinese Journal of Clinical Psychology, 14, 244 - 247.
In a sample of German teens, 6.3% of subjects fulfilled the authors' diagnostic criteria for gaming addiction. These adolescents were mostly male and had low educational backgrounds. They tended to use computer gaming as a method of managing their moods.
Klaus et al. (2008). Computer game addiction: A psychopathological symptom complex in adolescence. Psychiatrische Praxis, 35, 226 - 232.
In a Chinese sample, negative parenting styles (e.g., authoritarian) are closely associated with computer gaming addiction among high school students.
Wang et al. (2006). Research on the relationship between the tendency toward computer game addiction and parental rearing styles in senior high school students. Chinese Journal of Clinical Psychology, 12, 460 - 462.
In a sample of over 7000 computer game players, 11.9% meet the researchers' diagnostic criteria for gaming addiction. Additionally, there is only weak evidence that excessive gaming is associated with aggressive behavior.
Grusser et al. (2007). Excessive computer game playing: Evidence for addiction and aggression? Cyberpsychology & Behavior, 10, 290 - 292.
Online games, especially multiplayer role playing games are more often associated with gaming addiction than any other video game genre.
Van Tooik et al. (2010). Video game addiction and social responsibility. Addiction Research & Theory, 18, 489 - 493.
Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) is a recommended treatment method for gaming addiction. CBT for computer gaming addiction involves setting healthy goals, monitoring gaming patterns, changing behavioral habits, and challenging thoughts that maintain or intensify video game addiction.
King et al. (2010). Cognitive behavioral therapy for problematic video game players: Conceptual considerations and practice issues. Journal of CyberTherapy and Rehabilitation, Fall 2010, 261 - 273.
In a large German study (more than 15,000 participants) 3% of male students and 0.3% of female student were viewed as having a computer gaming addiction.
Rehbein et al. (2009). Excessive video game playing and video game addiction in adolescence: Results of a German nationwide survey. Die Psychiatrie: Grundlagen & Perspektiven, 6, 140 - 146.
It is possible that excessive video game play is caused by poor time management skills and an avoidance of other problems, rather than inherent addictive qualities of the games.
Wood et al. (2008). Problems with the concept of video game 'addiction': Some case study examples. International Journal of Mental Health and Addiction, 6, 169 - 178.
Gaming addiction is negatively associated with academic achievement.
Chiu et al. (2004). Video game addiction in children and teenagers in Taiwan. CyberPsychology & Behavior, 7, 571 - 581.
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