Attention Problems and Pathological Gaming: Resolving the ‘Chicken and Egg’ in a Prospective Analysis

Abstract

Pathological gaming (PG) behaviors are behaviors which interfere with other life responsibilities. Continued debate exists regarding whether symptoms of PG behaviors are a unique phenomenon or arise from other mental health problems, including attention problems. Development of attention problems and occurrence of pathological gaming in 144 adolescents were followed during a 1-year prospective analysis. Teens and their parents reported on pathological gaming behaviors, attention problems, and current grade point average, as well as several social variables. Results were analyzed using regression and path analysis. Attention problems tended to precede pathological gaming behaviors, but the inverse was not true. Attention problems but not pathological gaming predicted lower GPA 1 year later. Current results suggest that pathological gaming arises from attention problems, but not the inverse. These results suggest that pathological gaming behaviors are symptomatic of underlying attention related mental health issues, rather than a unique phenomenon.

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Abbreviations

PG:

Pathological gaming

GPA:

Grade point average

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Conflict of interest

Neither author have conflicts of interest to declare. The authors have no financial relationships relevant to this article to disclose.

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Correspondence to Christopher J. Ferguson.

Additional information

What’s known PG behaviors affect a small number of youth video game players. Pathological gaming appears to be correlated with other mental health problems such as attention deficit symptoms.

What this study adds the current study examines prospective links between attention problems and pathological gaming. Evidence suggests that attention problems increase the potential for pathological video game playing, but that the inverse is not true.

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Ferguson, C.J., Ceranoglu, T.A. Attention Problems and Pathological Gaming: Resolving the ‘Chicken and Egg’ in a Prospective Analysis. Psychiatr Q 85, 103–110 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11126-013-9276-0

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Keywords

  • Video games
  • Addiction
  • Pathological gaming
  • Attention problems
  • Grades