Computer/gaming station use is ubiquitous in the lives of youth today. Overuse is a concern, but it remains unclear whether problems arise from addictive patterns of use or simply excessive time spent on use. The goal of the present study was to evaluate computer/gaming station use in youth and to examine the relationship between amounts of use, addictive features of use and functional impairment.
A total of 110 subjects (11 to 17 years of age) from local schools participated. Time spent on television, video gaming and non-gaming recreational computer activities was measured. Addictive features of computer/gaming station use were ascertained, along with emotional/behavioural functioning. Multiple linear regressions were used to understand how youth functioning varied with time of use and addictive features of use.
Mean (± SD) total screen time was 4.5±2.4 h/day. Addictive features of use were consistently correlated with functional impairment across multiple measures and informants, whereas time of use, after controlling for addiction, was not.
Youth are spending many hours each day in front of screens. In the absence of addictive features of computer/gaming station use, time spent is not correlated with problems; however, youth with addictive features of use show evidence of poor emotional/ behavioural functioning.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background: In recent years child and adolescent engagement in online activities and video games has increased dramatically to the point that it dominates the free time of many youth. Many young people seem unable to control their excessive use of technology in spite of consequences which impair aspects of their daily functioning. Methods: This article summarizes the literature regarding pathological video game and Internet use and presents proposed criteria and recommendations for assessment and treatment. Results: A sizable body of recently published research consistently demonstrates that a minority of youth develop symptoms consistent with a behavioral addiction to the Internet and video games, although there is no officially recognized diagnosis which describes the syndrome. Conclusions: Knowledge of current research findings, including epidemiology, will help enable mental health to recognize and appropriately care for patients suffering from these problems.
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