A fresh study by Oxford University suggests that obsessive gaming may be an expression of underlying psychosocial frustration rather than an evil in itself. This contradicts the World Health Organization’s recent decision to identify obsessive gaming as a mental illness.
The new research suggests that most excessive gamers aren’t truly addicted to the games themselves. Instead, they are using gaming as an escape from other problem areas of their lives.
This study examined the habits of over 1,000 teenagers, including both self-reported habits from the teens and information from their parents and other caregivers, and finds that there’s no evidence that excessive gaming itself leads to substantial behavioural problems among adolescents. Overall, the study found the following four key findings:
- Most adolescents played at least one internet-based game daily.
- Less than half of daily online gamers reported symptoms of obsessive gaming.
- Daily players were highly engaged, devoting an average of three hours a day to games.
- There was little evidence that obsessive gaming significantly impacted adolescent outcomes.
You may wonder why Oxford’s study is different from WHO’s study. But researchers at Oxford Internet Institute argue that previous studies have “failed to examine the wider context of what is going on in these young peoples’ lives.”
That isn’t to say there aren’t dangers and issues associated with gaming but they are more likely to be symptoms of other needs of the subject not being met. This all, of course, goes with the caveat that more research is required. As one of the researcher goes on to say:
We need better data and the cooperation of video gaming companies if we are to get to the bottom of all this”.