New Research On Youth Video Game Playing

With publication of theDSM-5likely to move Pathological Gambling from its current clinical classification as an Impulse Control Disorder to a new category called “Addiction and Related Disorders,” there is growing interest in other potential “behavioral addictions.” One such behavior, video game playing, is the subject of a new study conducted by researchers at Yale University School of Medicine and published in the journalPediatrics(Desai, Krishnan-Sarin, Cavallo, & Potenza, 2010).

The researchers surveyed 4,028 representative adolescents about their video game playing, substance use, physical and mental health, high risk behaviors, and demographics. The results showed that moderate video game playing was not associated with any negative health outcomes in boys, but girls who played video games were more likely to have gotten into a serious fight or carried a weapon to school. One reason for this gender difference may be that playing video games is normative for boys (over 75 percent of boys surveyed played video games) but not for girls. The researchers cautioned against blaming video games for making girls more aggressive as it is equally possible that more aggressive girls are drawn to video game playing.

About 5 percent of the adolescents surveyed met the researchers’ criteria for problematic gaming (defined as trying to cut back, experiencing an irresistible urge to play, and experiencing a growing tension that can only be relieved by playing video games), with boys meeting the criteria about twice as often as girls. Adolescents meeting the criteria for problematic gaming were also more likely to regularly smoke cigarettes, use drugs, be depressed, and have been in serious fights.

More information on the article inPediatricsis available onthe journal’s website. What are your thoughts on this or other possible behavioral addictions? Tell us in the Comments section below.


Desai, R. A., Krishnan-Sarin, S., Cavallo, D., & Potenza, M. N. (2010). Video-gaming among high school students: health correlates, gender differences, and problematic gaming.Pediatrics,126(6), e1414-1424. doi:10.1542/peds.2009-2706

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