Nearly one in 10 US children who play videogames may be growing addicted to the pastime, according to US research released Monday.
A study released by the National Institute on Media and the Family at Iowa State University drew comparisons to compulsive gambling, concluding some children lie, borrow money from friends, or dodge work to play videogames.
"The present study was designed to demonstrate whether pathological gaming is an issue that merits further attention," Institute director and assistant professor of psychology Douglas Gentile wrote in the report.
"With almost one out of 10 youth gamers demonstrating real-world problems because of their gaming, we can conclude that it does."
Researchers based their findings on a national sample of 1,178 people ages eight through 18, with the group containing nearly even numbers of boys and girls.
Almost 90 percent of the US youths polled said they played videogames.
The average amount of time spent playing videogames weekly was reported to be 16.4 hours for boys and 9.2 hours for girls.
Of the videogame players, 8.5 percent exhibited "pathological patterns of play" gauged by the presence of at least six of 11 clinical symptoms showing damage to family, social, school, or psychological functioning.
"Although this percentage may at first appear to be high, it is very similar to the prevalence demonstrated in many other studies of pathological videogame use in this age group, including studies in other nations," according to Gentile.
The most typical symptom was children skipping household chores in order to play videogames, the report indicates.
A quarter of videogamers surveyed said they played to escape problems, and nearly as many admitted to playing when they were supposed to be devoting time to homework.
A fifth of videogamers said that they had botched schoolwork or done poorly on exams because they had spent time playing instead of focusing on academics.
"It is certainly possible that pathological gaming causes poor school performance," the report maintains.
"But, it is equally likely that children who have trouble at school seek to play games to experience feelings of mastery, or that attention problems cause both poor school performance and an attraction to games."
Girls were more likely than boys to try to cut back on videogame play to refocus on their home or school responsibilities, according to the research.
Some of the children said they lied to friends or family about how much they play videogames and a few even said they stole to get games or the money to buy them.