Pathological video-game use among youth ages 8 to 18: a national study (2009)

Comments: US study finding 8% of American youth ages 8 to 18 meet the clinical criteria for pathological gaming.

Psychol Sci. 2009 May;20(5):594-602.

Gentile D.


Department of Psychology, Iowa State University and National Institute on Media and the Family, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA. [email protected]


Researchers have studied whether some youth are “addicted” to video games, but previous studies have been based on regional convenience samples. Using a national sample, this study gathered information about video-gaming habits and parental involvement in gaming, to determine the percentage of youth who meet clinical-style criteria for pathological gaming. A Harris poll surveyed a randomly selected sample of 1,178 American youth ages 8 to 18. About 8% of video-game players in this sample exhibited pathological patterns of play. Several indicators documented convergent and divergent validity of the results: Pathological gamers spent twice as much time playing as nonpathological gamers and received poorer grades in school; pathological gaming also showed comorbidity with attention problems. Pathological status significantly predicted poorer school performance even after controlling for sex, age, and weekly amount of video-game play. These results confirm that pathological gaming can be measured reliably, that the construct demonstrates validity, and that it is not simply isomorphic with a high amount of play.