Videogame addiction driving psychological, physical and relationship problems, study shows

Addiction to videogames is affecting people psychologically and physically, as well as having a negative impact on personal and social relationships, a new study suggests.

Researchers at Nottingham Trent University and the University of Oulu in Finland found that addiction was contributing to gamers’ depression, anxiety, obsessive-compulsive behaviours, concentration, impulsivity, self-control, self-esteem and wellbeing at school.

Videogame addiction was also responsible for driving symptoms such as cardiovascular stress, nervous system problems, sleep problems, wrist pain and reduced physical activity, the study found.

It was also leading to relationship problems and decreased harmony within the family, decreased social integration in schools, negative parenting patterns and attitudes, shyness, loneliness and social phobia.

Data from about 130,000 gamers worldwide, aged 12-88, was used as part of the research, which is reported in the Journal of Health Psychology.

The researchers examined 50 studies from the last 11 years to investigate how videogame addiction was affecting people’s health.

Over the last decade, video gaming has become an increasingly integral part of people’s leisure activities and everyday life and is highly prevalent amongst people across the globe. In Europe, it is estimated that about a quarter of the continent aged 16-64 played videogames at least once a week in 2012.

In the current study, depression and anxiety were particularly common psychological issues, with videogame addiction believed to be responsible for seven and eight per cent of cases in gamers, respectively.
Up to 16% of issues relating to OCD and physical symptoms were down to videogame addiction, it was found.

Depression and anxiety symptoms relating to videogame addiction tended to be lower in children and adolescents than adults, the research showed.

The study is thought to be the first to systematically review key adverse health-related problems linked to videogame addiction.

The researchers argue that more work is needed to develop preventative initiatives around problem video gaming, to target those most at risk.

Prevention and treatment programmes should include activities that build social competence and the skills to handle stress, the say.

“It is important that our findings are used to inform both mental health professionals and the public about what videogame addiction is and how it can affect our health,” said Dr Halley Pontes, a researcher in Nottingham Trent University’s School of Social Sciences.

He said: “Our work is important because it shows a wide range of health implications linked to videogame addiction. The study shows the potential health-related costs, whilst also providing details and insights into which specific health impairments can occur as a result of videogame addiction.

“We hope the findings will be helpful in informing and driving future research into the treatment of videogame addiction and associated mental health problems.”

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Videogame addiction driving psychological, physical and relationship problems, study shows

Published on 31 January 2018
  • Subject area: Psychology, sociology, health and social care
  • Category: Press office; School of Social Sciences

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