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Study: 10% of young gamers suffer behavioural problems

Some 10 percent of young gamers experience behavioral problems such as depression and anxiety, according to a doctoral thesis presented this week at Oulu University.

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Excessive digital playing can provide a diversion from real life problems. Image: Andy Rain / EPA

Ten percent of young computer gamers suffer from problematic behaviour, according to a study by Oulu University.

Symptoms of such behavior include excessive playing, increased melancholy and anxiety, and a preference for online interaction with people rather than meeting in real life. Fatigue and concentration difficulties are also common among problem players.

Niko Männikkö, who conducted the research for his doctoral thesis, sampled 853 adolescents between the ages of 13 and 24. Digital games were defined as games played on the computer, console, internet or mobile devices. Gambling was excluded.

Problematic nature of gaming

”Gaming can be relaxing and entertaining, but some of its essential elements, like rivalry, the escape from reality and social interaction can reinforce the problematic nature of gaming,” Männikkö says.

Excessive gaming can provide a diversion from real life problems or difficult circumstances. However, problematic gaming behavior can also be a symptom of mental illness. 

”Because behavioral models related to health and addiction usually develop in adolescence, it’s important to recognize and help the young people in time,” he adds.

The young players most at risk of problematic behavior tend to favor role playing, action or strategy games.

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