A study with more than 20,000 people found that young, single men at risk of being addicted to video games may be trying to escape from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and psychiatric disorder.
“Video game addiction is more prevalent among younger men, and among those not being in a current relationship, than others,” says, Cecilie Schou Andreassen, doctor of psychology and clinical psychologist specialist at Department of Psychosocial Science, University of Bergen (UiB).
Schou Andreassen carried out the study with more than 20 000 participants who answered questions related to videogame addiction. The study is published in the journal Psychology of Addictive Behaviors of the American Psychological Association.
It showed that video game addiction appears to be associated with attention deficit / hyperactivity disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and depression.
“Excessively engaging in gaming may function as an escape mechanism for, or coping with, underlying psychiatric disorders in attempt to alleviate unpleasant feelings, and to calm restless bodies,” Andreassen said.
According to her, the large study shows some clear tendencies as to which people develop addictive use of social media.
“The study implies that younger with some of these characteristics could be targeted regarding preventing development of an unhealthy gaming pattern.”
It also showed that addiction related to videogames and computer activities shows sex differences.
“Men seem generally more likely to become addicted to online gaming, gambling, and cyber-pornography, while women to social media, texting, and online shopping,” Schou Andreassen said.
The study uses seven criteria to identify video game addiction (developed by Lemmens et al., 2009), where gaming experiences last six months are scored on a scale from “never” to “very often”:
- You think about playing a game all day long
- You spend increasing amounts of time on games
- You play games to forget about real life
- Others have unsuccessfully tried to reduce your game use
- You feel bad when you are unable to play
- You have fights with others (e.g., family, friends) over your time spent on games
- You neglect other important activities (e.g., school, work, sports) to play games
Scoring high on at least four of the seven items may suggest that you are addicted to video gaming associated with impaired health, work, school and/or social relations.
“However, most people have a relaxed relationship to video games and fairly good control,” Schou Andreassen explained.
A related study has found that people with ADHD have a lower life expectancy and are more than twice as likely to die prematurely as those without the disorder.
Accidents are the most common cause of death in people with ADHD, and the relative risk of dying is much higher for women than men with ADHD and individuals diagnosed in adulthood.
Led by Søren Dalsgaard from Aarhus University in Denmark, the large nationwide cohort study followed nearly two million individuals from the Danish national registers, including more than 32000 people with ADHD, from their first birthday to 2013 (a maximum of 32 years).
The causes of premature death were assessed to compare individuals with and without ADHD.
During follow-up, 107 individuals with ADHD died. People diagnosed with ADHD were about twice as likely to die prematurely as people without the disorder, even after adjusting for factors known to affect the risk of early death including age, sex, family history of psychiatric disorders, maternal and paternal age, and parental education.
This increased risk of premature death in people with ADHD was mainly driven by deaths from unnatural causes, more than half of which were caused by accidents (42 deaths among 79 people for whom the cause of death was known).
The risk of dying prematurely increased with age at diagnosis. For example, individuals diagnosed at age 18 years or older were more than four times as likely to die early compared with those without ADHD at the same age; whereas children diagnosed before the age of six years were at around double the risk of death compared with their healthy counterparts.
The findings also reveal that girls and women with ADHD have a higher relative risk of premature death compared with boys and men with ADHD.