Pathological Gaming Tied to Depression, Anxiety in Kids

Pathological gaming may cause poorer functioning and can last for years

MONDAY, Jan. 17 (HealthDay News) -- Pathological gaming is not simply a symptom of comorbid disorders, and can last for years, according to research published online Jan. 17 in Pediatrics.

Douglas A. Gentile, Ph.D., of the Iowa State University in Ames, and colleagues conducted a two-year longitudinal study of 3,034 students in grades three, four, seven, and eight in Singapore. The researchers measured hypothesized risk and protective factors for developing or overcoming pathological gaming to determine whether it was a primary problem or a symptom of comorbid problems.

The researchers found that the prevalence of pathological gaming in Singapore was about 9 percent, similar to that in other countries. Risk factors for becoming a pathological gamer seemed to include greater amounts of gaming, lower social competence, and greater impulsivity. Outcomes of pathological gaming seemed to include depression, anxiety, social phobias, and lower school performance. Most of the subjects who were pathological gamers at the start of the study (84 percent) were still pathological gamers two years later.

"Pathological gaming seems not to be simply secondary to other disorders but to predict poorer functioning longitudinally, and it can last for several years," the authors write.

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