January 17th, 2011
12:01 AM ET
Excess gaming linked to depression, bad grades
When it comes to playing video games, it seems moderation is important to a child's mental health. A new study published by the American Academy of Pediatrics finds excessive gaming may lead to depression, anxiety, and poor grades in school.
Researchers in the U.S. and overseas looked at more than 3,000 elementary and middle-school children in Singapore and found that almost 9% of them were considered pathological or "addicted" to gaming – similar percentages were found in other countries.
Over a two-year period about 84% of those who started out as excessive gamers remained so, indicating that this may not simply be a phase that children go through. Boys were more likely to show symptoms of excessive gaming. Overall those considered "pathological" gamers displayed higher levels of depression and other mental health issues than their peers who played fewer video games. The researchers also found that students who did stop their excessive gaming reduced their levels of depression, anxiety and social phobia.
There is debate in the medical community as to whether pathological or "addictive" video gaming should be listed as a mental disorder in the American Diagnostic and Statistic Manual of Mental Disorders – a guide used by the American Psychiatric Association in diagnosing mental disorders.
To gauge the level of pathological gaming, the study authors asked students questions similar to the type used to diagnose gambling addiction such as: were students becoming more preoccupied with video games, did they lie about the amount of time spent playing, had their schoolwork suffered, and if playing helped them escape from problems or bad feelings.
A young person was labeled pathological or "addicted" if the practice caused problems in his or her life.
"And we define that as actual functioning – their school, social, family, occupational, psychological functioning. To be considered pathological, gamers must be damaging multiple areas of their lives," explains study author Douglas Gentile, Ph.D., developmental psychologist at Iowa State University in Ames.
Pathological gamers were playing an average of more than 31 hours a week compared with their less excessive peers who played about 19 hours a week.
Gentile and the other researchers also looked at potential risk factors for becoming pathological gamers.
"Kids who were more impulsive were more likely to become addicted; they had a harder time managing their impulse control. If they were socially awkward then they were more likely to be addicted and if they spent a greater amount of time then the average kids playing games," explained Gentile.
The Entertainment Software Association disagreed with the findings. " "There simply is no concrete evidence that computer and video games cause harm," a statement from the organization said. "In fact, a wide body of research has shown the many ways games are being used to improve our lives through education, health and business applications."
Dr. Don Shifrin, spokesperson with the American Academy of Pediatrics, called Gentile's study important. "It allows us to take a harder look at how gamers play and whether there is balance in the lives of our children and teens," he said
The AAP recommends that elementary school age children engage in no more than one hour of screen time a day, and high schoolers no more than two.
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I think it's obvious that some people turn to gaming, gambling, etc. when they are already depressed, because of the appealing effects it has on the "pleasure centers" of the brain, while other people become addicted and find themselves depressed due to social isolation and possibly a lack of feeling "worthwhile accomplishment," while other people can maintain an addiction without being depressed at all (rare for true addictions.)
I also believe most depression in teens is due to bullying, social problems, sleep problems, and/or hormone or brain chemistry imbalance and gaming is usually a symptom.
I'm a recovering addict who is prone to depression, and if anything, videogames have helped my sobriety and mental health. I'm a responsible gamer, though. I keep a strict schedule, though, to help prevent me from overdoing it. For you parents who may be scared to let your children play videogames...I would actually recommend letting them do so, as long as you monitor the extent of their gaming and the type of games they play. Those are my two cents.
Just listen to all the addicts here in denial.
Quit gaming and get a life.
And stop blaming your parents,
you have the choice to stop.
Yep, they sure do. And you could quit your golf addiction if you wanted to, right? Or what about your all day/night professional gambling spree at the stock exchange? Sure we all could quit doing what we enjoy, but why?
Why is the kid in the picture at the top, holding a Nintendo 64 controller?? Really?!?! They couldnt get an updated picture, with atleast an original XBoX controller?
That's EXACTLY why he's depressed! While Mario Kart 64 IS good, he feels the pressure of those around him who have been able to afford next-gen consoles despite the recession. Naturally that's got to be damaging to the psyche.
So does excessive gaming cause depression or do some of those suffering from depression already forget their problems with excessive gaming? Or is it all part of a cycle???
Then why do schools reward first and second grade students with access to computer games if the student's work is completed? Are we teaching gaming, or are we rewarding excellence?
This does NOT mean that gaming causes depression. This means that depressed people need to escape reality for a while. Some more than others.
Can you put this into an audio file? I cannot read anymore because I have been up too late playing video games. Therefore the correlation is that I can no longer read English anymore.
Seriously, why don't you guys start publishing real studies?
Achievement Unlocked: 10G
No one has time to put it into audio format. We got a WoW campaign to run.
Maybe on the next patch they will hot key a text to audio button.
I'm pretty certain that women are 90% more likely to be addicted to excessive talking which leads to depression in men. 43% of Americans are addicted to fears of imagined medical/mental health issues, that's a big market.
"Excess gaming linked to bad grades" brought to you by the power of DUH.
And the letter 31337
More Malarkee from CNN – Another Monday Morning article. Happy MLK Day BTW....
The only way Gaming can cause depression, is if you SUCK at gaming and get ur a$$ waxed all over the place... ie Tekken6
Get your weight up!!!
Aww games are bad for people? depression? nobody ever got an engineering degree by playing these mind-melting games instead of going to school/college.
Whats next? OMFG! Obesity and diabetes runs hand in hand with sitting in front of a game all day while drinking 4 liters of mountain dew? wow – such a clear picture is forming now.
Go take a walk and see the outdoors and leave your made-up life on Facebook where you are a thin and attractive guy/girl and go socialize properly and actually have a life that you wont regret when it comes to an end instead of your current one. As with anything, if the shoe fits...
Sounds like doing well in school and making friends comes naturally to you. Not everyone has it so easy.
I think tv commercials are far more dangerous.
Did the study consider that kids (or even adults) turn to video games BECAUSE they are depressed? Perhaps they stop playing video games because they no longer feel depressed? This story jumps to conclusions that "video game addiction" is bad, but doesn't really seem to ascertain the root cause of the depression. Instead, it says that video games are the cause. Perhaps it's true, but being a video gamer, I disagree. I know I go on a video game binge more often when I'm feeling depressed, and the depression has nothing to do with the video gaming and everything to do with my social life.
Right. Why do teens get depressed? Most likely, it's because they're not happy with their social life. Video games offer them something to do when they're alone, whether it's by choice, or because they don't have enough friends. Of course, gaming isn't going to improve your social life, and may simply drag the depression out for that reason, but it wouldn't surprise me if the root cause is the underlying depression, and the gaming just a coping mechanism.
My concern is by gaming you are missing the TRUE interaction with other people. It is a skill that is slipping away. Putting yourself out there in front of other people builds confidence. Confidence helps quell some forms of depression. I have nothing against gaming. I think moderation of anything is key. I agree with most of the gamers who spoke out. Standing up for yourself and facing the issues and /or taking responsibility for yourself and finding help for yourself instead of hiding in a game and blaming someone else is a solution easily overlooked.
Right. So what's a kid supposed to do when every prep-girl and jock "bully" him/her in real life? Online communities are attached to real people and many of the rejected kids find friendships in cyberspace because it is easier for outcasts to find acceptance. The real world is full of judgmental, self-righteous, self-serving, fashion-seeking, status-minded, hypocrites that feed the real cause of depression and anxiety in many very intelligent teenagers. Just so happens that many times being smart comes at the cost of looking weird. If Albert Einstein were a teenager today, how would his high school peers treat him? I grew up with a brilliant kid who graduated college before he finished high school, and let me tell you, his only real friends were other brainiacs and school faculty. He has helped designed many of the smart phones we use today as well as the web technology that makes the web what is today. I know his parents and they spent much time comforting him every day after school. His addiction? He buried himself in computer programming, making games and applications. He is the extreme of one end and there are others like myself at the other end: I never bought into the idea that brand name clothes make you popular. I grew up as a pseudo-hippie. I was depressed, but I turned to drugs to escape. My friends and I were all outcasts and boo hoo, we survived. This all happened before gaming is what it is today. So, what was the cause of our mild depression? If I may say so, I believe it was the expectation that "normal" is looking like a football star, a prom queen or student council leader. "Normal" is kissing every faculty member's hand and shining like a basketball trophy. And go home to an abusive drunk father who could care less if you ever went to school. Come on people. Games? Real life is tough, and there are millions who don't know how to handle it, so they search and find something to take them to a better place. You want to study something worthwhile? How bout the correlation of violence and the news media content over the past five decades. It's like a ram-jet: the more it gets, the more it pushes.
I think that life is linked to depression. The world is a pretty sad place for most people. Some can play a game and be a hero or a villain where you truly matter in the outcome of the story, but then in normal life you just seem to be pretty insignificant. So the games do not cause the initial depression but a rather just an escape from it for a while. So like drug use, the addiction peaks up leading to more gaming which worsens the issue leading to severe depression over time.
THIS. That's what I was trying to say. I forced myself to put down my games when I realized I was using them for the wrong reason. But when I'm not upset, when I am not using them as an outlet because I have bothered to talk about what is getting to me instead of hiding away with the games to feel better, then playing games with friends is a GOOD thing rather than bad. It can bring us together and often times is a very creative medium for storytelling.
I have an eleven year old who doesn't want to do anything except play xbox online. I limit his time but unless he is playing he is not happy. I have to drag him to school and to meals etc. He has quit basketball and his grades are suffering. I wish I never let these games in our home...
so get rid of them... you're the one in control of your house.
I agree. The reason he is addicted is that, just like in a casino, the bright colors, flashing, constant oppotunity to "score" points, etc. are literally addictive for some people. The same areas of the brain are active when a person addicted to games is playing them as when a drug addict is getting his/her "fix."
Sell the game-box and have a ton of other activities for your son to turn to instead, including some that involve his peers. Let him choose or come up with his own. Spend more time with him yourself. Take him out, teach him the skills and hobbies you have. He will be grateful, and your relationship with him will improve over time, as he gains confidence from the things you teach him.
Stop wishing and do something about it. Read the article "Tiger Mom" on cnn where they compare the way american kids are raised vs the chinese kids. It's embarrassing how we coddle our kids and have a problem taking control.
I play games frequently and I live a wonderful life. You lot are just over thinking and trying to find a scapegoat.
Same here. I completely agree. Not every gamer is the stereotypical obese, socially awkward, neck beard they are usually thought to be. That being said, my neck beard is coming in quite nicely this season..
I too love video games and I allowed my sons to play these games when they were young, let's say 15 years ago, they played alot. Now, I didn't allow them to play far into the night or way past bedtime or play instead of doing homework, studying, housework etc. and they turned out alright. I would say so since they are now 26 and 24 and don't appear to be at all having any lingering depression, anxiety or repressed negative social issues. Maybe this story is presenting to us ANOTHER way, kids can fall into depression, resentment, bad grades, troubles at school and other negative social issues. I don't believe in the results of the story however, I think kids who cling to playing video games and it becomes excessive may not have the avenue or may not have the opportunity needed to deal with all the things that kids will face, and when faced with those things they may become depressed. That's just my opinion.
You know, I can see where they are getting this, but I would like to interject something I have noticed about myself, because I do have depression sometimes, and I happen to be a gamer. If I am feeling down about something, I find an outlet. Sometimes, you can be too depressed to know when to stop, or to talk to someone, or to do anything in moderation. The important thing here isn't to say that video games can cause depression, but a lack of understanding and a lack of interaction ANYWHERE can contribute to it. If someone is exhibiting obsessive behavior, that may not be the cause of depression so much as a symptom of it. I know I've had days when all I wanted to do was lay in front of the tv or mash buttons, but that was because I was SAD, not that those things were making me so.
The kids are sad because they get yelled at for standing in the fire. :b
LOL ..i think the 2 of us are the only ones who get what you just said moonkin..... ROFLMAO!
It's fine if they're standing in fire, I'll Leap of Faith them out.
Gaming is entertainment. Like TV. You never see studies on how television effects your life.
Too much money in advertising to have people turning off the TV so you'll never see it.
It's a trend in "society" to pick on things that aren't done by the majority. Anything that doesn't fit the accepted mold they want us in, is "studied" and deemed unacceptable for one lame reason or another.
Who cares what kids in Singapore are doing. Maybe they suck at our games so bad, they become depressed.
Maybe life in Singapore is so depressing they hide in a video game to escape it.
Sounds like some else's problem. Do a study on the effects of ridiculous, money wasting studies. See how many people become depressed when they realise that time and money could have been devoted to cancer study instead of completely wasted on something like this.
Right on Norm!
Meh. It's a good thing to pay attention to. Ten to one it's just some professor keeping his grad students busy, anyway.
That picture looks like something taken from some out-of-touch bible study booklet. Some evil looking kid with what I usually would refer to as "bible hair", playing a severely outdated gaming system? Looks like someone is on a crusade.
They used to do this same type of study with basketball before it was suddenly "healthy" and good for "keeping the kids off the street." Give it a few years.
lol he's got bible hair
Could there possibly be a more worthless article than this on the entire internets? What bowl of ducks...
Funny how they sling all this crap together after the shooting in AZ. Smells more like a bowl of s#!t.
no no – theres a real problem in this and other countries as well
You lead the way moron.
Look at the controller in the picture on this article. If I gamed excessively on a Nintendo 64 I'd be depressed too.
These depressed gamers need to be gathered together in a room full of fire arms so they might take one another out.
I think most of you misread the article. They looked at elementary and middle school kids. Not high school kids. What parents allows a 7 year old to play more than 31 hours a week of video games. No wonder kids are having obesity problems and are getting dumber!
Addicts are generally depressed, and use to reduce their depression. So a Gaming addict uses gaming like a smoker uses cigarettes. Treating the depression and the addiction is far more important than the object of addiction.
We begged. we pleaded endlessly with our son to stop and desist all gaming. He was adamant about it. He went back to college, coddled his Alien gamer computer throughout the long nights, missed classes, failed 3 out of 5 classes, and went into a severe depression which paralyzed his mind academically. At home, this was a model kid raised in the healthiest home in America. Away from home – disaster.
He bought an Alienware?
What a casual.
Are you sure he remembers his childhood as being as wonderful as you think it was? My parents are so shocked that I don't think we had a loving, supportive, nurturing household, but it's because they didn't want to see the problems, and I was too lacking in confidence to articulate them. Unbalanced teenagers can fall apart when on their own, when they realize they don't yet have the life-skills college requires, especially when they don't know which career to pursue or how to succeed in the required courses.
Hopefully your son will go through rehab (yes, it exists for video game addiction), get the help he needs, and go on to succeed in college in a year or two. I wish him well.
Maybe it wasn't the "healthiest household in America" after all? It sounds more like you have created a safe little environment for him and when he got out he didn't know how to handle himself. That's not a healthy household, that's a safe household, and that doesn't really help anyone when they get out in the real world.
You begged and pleaded with your child? Maybe that's the problem.
>implying I'm depressed
Video gamers are depressed because they are spending time playing video games instead of engaging in prayer and family activities. Depression is caused when someone is emotionally distant from our Lord. Video games are much more destructive than most people realize, and the banning of video games is the only way to keep them from polluting our childrens minds and spirits.
Religion is another mechanism for coping with depression. But it doesn't necessarily work for everyone.
I'm sorry, but this is a gross over-simplification; people can become "addicted" to religion as an escape just as easily. If you read Matt Taibbi's The Great Derangement, Chris Hedges' American Fascists, or Jeff Sharlet's The Family you will see that religious gatherings fill a social need in people that aren't very good at being social, or that it indulges their desire for "magical thinking." It's a more accepted form of escapism, but it is escapism none the less.
Unless you are being sarcastic; in which case kudos.
Assuming you are being serious, praying and family activities are not enough to prevent depression in a person who has a chemical imbalance in their brain. Please educate yourself about serious depression, because telingl someone who is suicidal that the answer is to "pray" does more harm than good.
Yeah, no kidding. Key thing is, video games aren't unique in any respect; there are *lots* of addictive behaviors used to avoid depression. Like say, for example, excessive television watching. It's all about escapism of some sort or another. Video games are just the new version of the same old story.
Every time someone busts some caps in public the gaming industry is studied. Remember Columbine? What did they blame it on in the 50's, 60's and 70's? Maybe the Mafia is still here and have friends in high places. Wow! What a great idea! If the Mob wants to whack someone, they can cover it up by blaming Nintendo! If the wrong-winged wackos want to take out someone, they can now blame the depressed masses of Echo Isles who fought so valiantly to escape the confines of cyberspace and crusade into real life to wage their vengeful campaign against the oppressive rulers that threaten their peaceful world! It reminds me of three brothers, one slaps the head of the second brother and points to the third brother who has no clue what just happened.
I think this article is inaccurate. Sometimes you just get drawn in by the story of the game. Like Zelda, its almost like a movie in some cases.
I play video games for 40+ hours a week and just completed (and passed easily, I might add) a joint degree of Bachelor of Engineering/Bachelor of Information Technology.
All you depressed gamers should kill yourselves.
Tryin to make our day a little better, are ya? Thanks for that.
Bad troll. No cookie.
It would save more bandwidth for me at least
For people who are depressed, any and all excessive or pathological behavior is linked to depression. Fill in the blank here. Pathological ____________ is linked to depression.
I bought my kid one of those playboxes and now all he does shoot his "black ops" i got him too. I told him maybe he should get in the yard and do some work or walk the dog, but he wont stop playing. It's like hes ADDICTED to the games. Im gonna write a letter to nintendo expressing my concern over this issue and I may even decide to sue them. I'm just too busy between work and playoffs to handle this one myself.
4/10 would consider making an angry reply again
lol great trollan /b/ro
reduce his time playing. Take control back and ease his playing time back some. Video gaming is a fun outlet and your child will learn that from you given an alternative.
no surprises here!
if all my freinds had xbox or ps3 and playing on line, i'd be depressed like that kid too... you can now play mario brothers on a handheld - what?!
CORRELATION =/= CAUSATION
Well..... I play COD almost everyday for like three hours. I have never been depressed, or anxious, and I am a 4.0 student. So...... yeah. You are wrong.
This article is pretty full of herpderp, but I'm just chiming in to say that a study a few years back noticed that between children and teens who played video games, and those who watched an equal amount of television, the ones who watched television displayed a marked rise in depression and other mental problems as opposed to their video playing brethren.
Lettuce War!! One of my favorite games.
I think this is another chicken/egg scenario where people don't know which causes which. The link shouldn't be that surprising; some people give in to the impulse to indulge in something that they use as an escape from their dreary lives. The excitement of indulgence, whether it is gambling, shopping, drugs, or video games if often times better than the drudgery of regular life. In a video game you can actually succeed and "level up", in gambling there is actually a chance at winning. In the regular world you can bust your hump for decades and never "win" or get a promotion. These indulgences are bad, but maybe a symptom of a much larger societal disease.
You forgot to mention the HUGE aspect of being able to go back and "do over" any mistakes you make in a video game.
There's do reset or spawn point in real life.
If anything, I would think the depression comes from having to "stop" playing video games and be forced to attend the mind numbing, useless garabge they cram down your throats in school every day.
Not enough education in the real world tools that help people live a happy and social life.
Social studies should be exactly that and should be more important than jamming our children's heads with useless equations and theorums that they will never use unless they get into a career involving that. At which point it should be taught in college or a trade school. Algera, calculus, trig.....not uselful in everyday life. School should be 95% social studies and philosophy, the rest an elective.
It's easy to give gaming a bad rap; We're going through a screen-time battle with my 13yr old right now. For me it's the same as anything else.. it's fine in moderation. The point to consider is, as anyone who plays this stuff knows, it can be a tremendous time-vampire and for some kids literally everything else in their life gets pushed out. So play your games! have fun! but don't let it be ALL you do.
wow, I just thought of my friend when reading this. Except he's 23 and jobless, and over the last 5 years I've seen him slip into a fog more and more. Doesn't want to go out, his only joy seems to be video games. He's obsessed with online bouts because they show world rankings. If I come to town to visit him he pleads for me to stay longer, smoke weed, yet we probably wouldn't leave his apartment. He never comes to visit me but I think it's because he's so obsessed with his games and other belongings he thinks it will be stolen if he leaves for too long.
Has anyone ever told him he has a problem and given him a list of places where he can get help??
GAMEZ R RUINING OUR CHILDREN!
Here we go again......
Thisisi like blaming guns for killing people.
How about...bad parents are ruining our children....
One of their findings is that compulsive video game playing leads to bad grades. One of their criteria of compulsive video game playing is "have your grades suffered." Sounds like someone in this study needs to retake Methodology 101.
So...if someone is already a nerd and socially "disfunctional" because they got bullied in school, and got depressed because they were being bullied, and they play computer games...how, exactly, is that being addicted? Perhaps the people who did this study need to figure out if the chicken came before the egg.