A new study out of BYU suggests video game addiction isn’t real for the majority of gamers. But a small minority suffer long-term consequences that will stick with them for life.

What the study says

  • BYU conducted a six-year study on video game addiction, the longest ever on the subject, according to the university.
  • 90% of gamers do not play in a way that’s harmful to them. These gamers do not suffer negative long-term consequences.
  • 72% of adolescents were low in addiction symptoms.
  • 18% of adolescents started with moderate symptoms that didn’t change over time.
  • 10% of adolescents showed an increase of symptoms .

A deeper dive:

  • The study said “a significant minority” of gamers “can become truly addicted to video games and as a result can suffer mentally, socially and behaviorally.”
  • Two predictors of video game addiction included being male and having low levels of prosocial behavior.
  • Having high levels of prosocial behavior tended to prevent addiction symptoms, the study said.

Method:

  • Sarah Coyne, a professor of family life at BYU and lead author of the research, said the study aimed “to look at the longer-term impact of having a particular relationship with video games and what it does to a person over time.”
  • The study looked at what happened to people when they played video games over a six-year period, ranging from adolescence to early adulthood.
  • Researchers studied 385 adolescents for the study. Each participants filled out a questionnaire once a year throughout the six-year period. Questions focused on depression, anxiety, aggression, empathy, shyness, financial stress and “problematic cellphone use.”

What it all means:

  • According to the study, “the results suggest that while about 90% of gamers are not playing in a way that is dysfunctional or detrimental to the individual’s life, there is still a sizable minority who are truly addicted to video games and suffer addiction symptoms over time.”
  • The study said: “These findings also go against the stereotype of gamers living in their parent’s basement, unable to support themselves financially or get a job because of their fixation on video games. At least in their early 20s, pathological users of video games appear to be just as financially stable and forward-moving as gamers who are not addicted.”