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ESA-Decried Video Game Study Released

by Matthew Kato on Jan 17, 2011 at 03:14 AM

Last week, the video game trade group the ESA (Entertainment Software Association) preemptively criticized Dr. Douglas Gentile's study about video game addiction in Pediatrics magazine. It's now out, and Dr. Gentile (associate professor of psychology at Iowa State University – Ames) finds that pathological gaming can be a bad habit which may be related to depression and anxiety.

The study surveyed over 3,000 children in Singapore, and found that slightly over nine percent of them fell under the study's classification of being pathologically addicted to gaming. The study used a definition based on gambling addiction, since it is a medically recognized disorder, while video game addiction is not. "A lot of video gaming isn't the same as an addiction," said Dr. Gentile. "Some kids can play a lot without having an effect on their lives. It's when you see other areas of your child's life suffer that it may be addiction."

Dr. Gentile stopped short of saying that gaming caused depression or anxiety, but that when depressed kids played video games in an addictive manner (such things as more than 30 hours a week, to the detriment of other social interactions, lack of impulse control) the depression got worse. Likewise, it lifted when they stopped playing games. "We don't know if it's truly causal, but gaming has an effect on its own, and you can't just ignore gaming and treat depression," he said.

Previously, the ESA criticized Dr. Gentile and the methodology of his previous work and said he was anti-video games. While we're by no means scientific researchers, Dr. Gentile's large sample size, hardly controversial findings, and measured approach seem within reason.


[via Gamespot]