ISU study shows that kids who play "pathological" amounts of games are less likely to fit in with their peers, keep up with schoolwork, or manage their impulses—all similar signs to other addictions.

Using a questionnaire like those used to assess drug abuse, the ISU team asked children in 3rd, 4th, 7th, and 8th grades questions like,

  • "Have you ever lied about playing a video game?" and
  • "Have you ever skipped school to play a game?"

Of roughly 3,000 participants, about nine percent were rated as "pathological".

Gaming community not happy about the study

This study, and others like it, have come under fire from the gaming community, which argues that it has causation backwards, that kids who are depressed (who are bullied at school, for example, or are neglected at home) are more likely to turn to gaming. The authors of the ISU study, though, say they have corrected for that and still found the depression to arise from the gaming.

Link between hours played and pathology highly variable

Interestingly, the study was only able to find the weakest correlation between the absolute number of hours per week playing games and the prevalence of pathology. Some kids could play for hours each day without suffering the symptoms of addiction, while others felt the signs almost immediately.

The important thing for parents to understand, concludes the study, is that it all depends on the child, and each parent has to be aware of the dangers of gaming and know their own kid well enough to know when it has gone from a harmless pastime to a damaging illness.