Bidirectional Causality for Attention Issues, Video Games

Violent video games impact attention problems, but time spent playing is more robust predictor

TUESDAY, Feb. 28 (HealthDay News) -- Children who spend more time playing video games subsequently have more attention problems and impulsivity, and those who are more impulsive or have attention problems spend more time playing video games, according to a study published in the January issue of Psychology of Popular Media Culture.

Douglas A. Gentile, Ph.D., from Iowa State University in Ames, and colleagues examined video game playing and its association with attention problems and impulsiveness in 3,034 children and teenagers from Singapore.

The researchers found that, over three years, those who spent more time playing video games subsequently had more attention problems, even after controlling for earlier attention problems, age, gender, race, and socioeconomic status. Although violent content impacted attention problems and impulsiveness, the total time spent playing games was a more robust predictor. Individuals with attention problems or who were more impulsive spent more time playing video games, even after controlling for initial video game playing.

"These findings provide evidence for bidirectional causality: children with greater impulsiveness and attention problems spend more time playing video games, which in turn increases subsequent attention problems and impulsiveness. This finding does not alter the cause for concern about the potential for video games to contribute to the development of attention problems," the authors write.

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