A recent Harris poll suggests that video game addiction is a growing problem in the United States.
In January Harris conducted an online survey of nearly 1,200 children and teens. The poll was conducted in collaboration with Prof. Douglas Gentile (left) of Iowa State University. Gentile is also the director of research for the National Institute on Media and the Family.
Based on the survey data, Harris concludes that 8.5% of gamers are clinically addicted to playing video games, while 23% report that they have felt addicted to games.
Harris also looked at the amount of time kids spend playing video games and concluded that boys 8-12 spend 16 hours per week, while their 13 to 18-year-old counterparts spend 18 hours gaming each week. According to the Harris web site:
Time matters because 8- to 18-year-olds who spend more time playing video games are more likely to perform more poorly in school, get into physical fights and/or be physically heavier.
Of the poll results, Gentile said:
It is important that people realize that playing a lot is not the same thing as pathological play. For something to be an addiction, it has to mean more than you do it a lot. It has to mean that you do it in such a way that it damages your life… Almost one out of every ten youth gamers show enough symptoms of damage to their school, family, and psychological functioning to merit serious concern.
Gamers who fit the pathological classification also reported receiving lower grades, were more likely to have game systems in their bedrooms, spent an average of 24.5 hours playing each week and were more likely to have been diagnosed with an attention deficit disorder.