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Large number of young video gamers 'addicted': study
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Almost one in 10 young video game users become "addicted," indicating pathological behavior among children, a new study has found.

Those who exhibit signs of addiction to gaming constitute 8.5 percent of the kids surveyed, according to the study published on Monday by Health Day News.

These kids aren't just playing a lot. Their gaming interferes with school performance, disrupts interaction with family and friends and poses health problems, the study noted.

The new study is based on data from a nationwide survey of 1,178 U.S. children and teens -- aged 8 to 18 -- conducted by Harris Interactive, a research firm based in Rochester, New York.

The surveys were conducted in January 2007 and involved roughly100 children at each age represented in the sample.

Children completed an online questionnaire using several scales to assess their video gaming habits. They were asked questions such as: "Have you ever played (video games) as a way of escaping from problems or bad feelings?" "Have you ever lied to family and friends about how much you play (video games)?"

To measure pathological gaming in kids, researchers at the Iowa State University in Ames (ISUA) adapted criteria used to diagnose pathological gambling. Gamers were classified as pathological if they exhibited at least six of the 11 criteria.

Pathological gamers played more frequently and for more time, received worse grades and were more likely to report having trouble paying attention in school than non-pathological players. They also reported more health problems associated with playing video games, such as hand and wrist pain, according to the study.

They were more than twice as likely to have been diagnosed with attention-deficit disorder -- 25 percent of pathological gamers versus 11 percent of non-pathological players, said the study.

And they were more likely (24 percent vs.12 percent) to report having been involved in physical fights in the past year, the study said.

The study is the first to document the prevalence of video game addiction using a nationally representative sample of children and adolescents, said Douglas A. Gentile, a developmental psychologist and an assistant professor at ISUA, who took part in the study.

"What's most concerning to me is really the total percentage, just the vast number of kids that are having real problems in their lives because they play games, and they may not know how to stop it," said Gentile.

(Xinhua News Agency April 21, 2009)


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