By Dr. Brent Conrad
Clinical Psychologist for TechAddiction and author of "How to Help Children Addicted to Video Games" (available as an instant download with free email support from Dr. Conrad).
How prevalent is video game addiction? How common is child video game addiction?
Video game addiction, despite not yet being recognized as a “real” disorder by the American Medical Association or the American Psychological Association, is a problem that is starting to accumulate a respectable body of research.
In the list below, TechAddiction has summarized many of the published findings on video game addictions, video game addiction statistics, and the use of video games in general.
Recent video game addiction research has provided stats and findings such as:
The ratio of male to female gamers who are addicted
How video game addiction is associated with academic performance
The types of video games that tend to be most addictive
The percentage of gamers who may be considered addicted to video games
How parenting style may be associated with video game addiction
The percentage of teenagers who show signs of video game addiction
As you read through these video game addiction statistics, keep in mind that because video game addiction is not a formal diagnosis, there is no standard for which symptoms and behaviors define video game addiction. This is a very real problem for researchers and almost certainly results in conflicting findings and stats.
However, until video game addiction is recognized as a formal diagnosis that has a clear set of diagnostic criteria, inconsistencies in the research is inevitable. Therefore, it is recommended that you read the full linked articles below to see exactly how “video game addiction” was defined in each study, how the research was conducted, and how the conclusions were made.
Forty-one percent of people who play online video games admitted that they played computer games as an escape from the real world. The researchers classified seven percent of these gamers as “dependent”. The authors claim that the addicted gamers used video games to modify their moods, demonstrated tolerance, and showed signs of relapse.
The likelihood of developing video game addiction depends on the curiosity of the player, the inclusion of a role-playing element, feeling obligated to the team members, a sense of belonging to an online gaming community, and rewards for playing.
Video game addiction is associated with a strong desire to seek new sensations and experiences, a favorable view of one’s intelligence, and a negative view of the gamer’s ability and competence in relationships.
Online role-playing games (especially multiplayer games or MMOs) are more likely to result in video game addiction than other computer game genres.
Van Rooij (2010)
Students addicted to video games have lower academic grades than their non-addicted peers.
People who have higher levels of trait anxiety, aggressive behavior, and neuroticism are at a higher risk for video game addiction.
Males are more prone to video game addiction than females. Boys tend to enjoy violent or aggressive games and girls generally prefer puzzle games and platformers.
High school video game addicts in China tend to have parents with an authoritarian parenting style.
The most recommended and most common treatment orientation for video game addiction is cognitive behavioral therapy.
The same regions of the brain that are activated when craving occur in alcohol and drug addicts are also activated in video game addicts when they see images of computer games.
Video game addicts may play online role playing games to avoid or distract themselves from negative moods.
In a German sample, 1.5 – 3.5% of teens who use the internet were found to demonstrate symptoms of video game addiction. Video game addiction was also found to be correlated with a higher probability of depression, anxiety, and poorer school grades.
Video game addiction may be the result of ineffective time management and a desire to avoid other difficulties (rather than theoretical “addictive” qualities of the game).
Compared to females, males are more likely to play online video games. Male video game addicts are more likely to be older, have lower self-esteem, and be less satisfied with their lives compared to those who are not addicted.
In a German study, just over six percent of teenagers were classified as addicted to video games. The majority of these addicted gamers were male, came from families with lower academic achievement, and tended to use video games as a way of coping with negative moods.
In another German study (using a different definition of video game addiction), it was concluded that 3% of teenage males and 0.3% of teenage females were addicted to video games.
In a large study of seven thousand video gamers, close to twelve percent were classified as being addicted to video games.
Notes from TechAddiction:
The last three studies above which claim video game addiction rates of 6%, 3%, and 12% are good examples of how different studies using different definitions of video game addiction can lead to very different conclusions.
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