Gentile: Pathological Gaming = Impulse-Control Disorder

Do you lie awake at night wondering why Professor Douglas Gentile conducted his latest video game addiction study in Singapore?  Well get ready for a good night’s sleep at last because that and other pressing questions have been answered in a recent interview with Gentile by PlayStation LifeStyle.

To recap, the study was conducted by surveying 3,034 Singapore children (averaging 9-years-old) about their gaming habits to determine whether any of them were “pathological gamers.”  The questions were based on the ones use to identify people suffering from pathological gambling, the only medically recognized behavioral addiction.  But is simply asking children about their gaming habits the best way to go about determining such a thing?  Wouldn’t kids predisposed to lying skew the results?  Gentile responds:

“I think your argument is not likely for many reasons, some of which are cultural differences between US and Singaporean children, and some of which are due to the fact that the kids didn’t know what we were studying. It was a big study that went across 4 days of testing each year for 3 years. This is only one small part, and they didn’t know how the data would be used.”

Gentile was then asked if the kids identified as addicted to games were tested for other addictions.  “Were they susceptible to addictions, or did gaming cause them to be addictive?”

“No, as these were children who would not be able to gamble easily, and drugs are not available in Singapore (drug dealers get the death sentence first offense!).  That said, I have a hard time with the word “addictive,” as I think this is really an impulse-control disorder (as is pathological gambling, by the way)”

So where do parents fit in?

“I think we don’t need to look for someone to blame. Of course parents should be involved in their children’s media habits, as many of my studies show. I think that for some children, the gaming gets out of balance with their other responsibilities, and they need help from their parents, friends, and possibly professionals.”

And the government?

“I think we need more research to determine if this is the same level and type of problem as other addictions. Other than that, I don’t see that governments really should have much role in this. It’s something the medical community will need to consider, which may ultimately have an impact on diagnosis and treatment.”

Oh, and why Singapore?

“That’s where the grant to study games was given.”

-Reporting from San Diego, GamePolitics Correspondent Andrew Eisen

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