A two-year study followed the gaming habits of over 3000 Singaporean school kids, revealing that 1 in 10 were “addicts”. According to the study, kids who became addicted to games saw an increase of depression and anxiety and a drop in school grades. “We tend to approach it as ‘just’ entertainment, or just a game, and forget that entertainment still affects us,” Douglas A. Gentile, who worked on the study, told Reuters. “In fact, if it doesn’t affect us, we call it ‘boring!'”
I don’t call it boring.
Though, the study might have intrinsic problems. Teachers handed out questionnaires to kids, asking them things like whether they skipped household chores to game or if they gamed to escape from problems – both of which sound like normal kid things! The kids gamed about 20 hours a week on average, with 9-12 per cent of the boys qualifying as addicted, Reuters reports.
According to the research, those kids who played longer lacked social skills and were more impulsive. The study states that these gamers are at higher risk of getting “addicted”, with symptoms that include depression and social phobias.
“One thing we have to bear in mind is that children playing video games for two to three hours a day is normal. It’s displaced activities like watching TV,” said Mark Griffiths, director of the International Gaming Research Unit at Nottingham Trent University in the UK.
Griffiths has problems with the Singapore study, noting, “If 9 per cent of children were genuinely addicted to video games there would be video game addiction clinics in every major city!” There is a different between being interested in video games and being addicted to them.
The Singapore study seems suspect. Millions upon millions of kids (and adults) play video games on a regular basis. There’s only a handful who are negatively impacted by their hobby, and if it wasn’t gaming that was fuelling their obsessions, it would be something else.