New research shows relationship between ADHD traits and problematic video game play in adults

Dr Maria Panagiotidi

Dr Maria Panagiotidi (Lecturer in Psychology & member of the Staffordshire Centre for Psychological Research) blogs about her recent research into the relationships between traits associated with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and the potentially problematic use of videogames:

In a recent paper published in “Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking”, I found that there is a positive relationship between Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) traits and problematic video game play. In other words, healthy adults who reported more inattention symptoms were at higher risk of pathological gaming.

Mainstream video games first appeared in the 1970s and their popularity has been steadily increasing since. Recently, the idea of problematic video game play has emerged. Such behaviour refers to persistent, recurrent, and excessive video game play, which can have a negative impact on an individual’s life (e.g., their performance at school, social life). A number of factors have been associated with problematic video game play including poor time management, underlying personal problems, or mental health problems. There is some emerging evidence suggesting that children and adolescents with ADHD exhibit more problematic video game behaviours compared to typically developing children. The majority of studies so far were focussed on children and adolescents. However, problematic video game use is also common among adults (4.1%).

The main aim of this study was to examine the contribution of inattention and hyperactivity, along with overall ADHD to problematic video game play. Two hundred and five adults completed an online survey measuring ADHD symptoms and problematic video game play. Overall, higher level of ADHD traits was associated with more problematic behaviour in video game play. This is consistent with previous research on children and adolescents with ADHD.

In particular, inattention symptoms and time spent playing video games were the best predictors of problematic video game play. These findings suggest that subclinical ADHD symptoms, especially inattention symptoms, could contribute to pathological gaming in adults. Further research on ADHD and problematic video game play has the potential to improve our understanding of how best to help people who experience video game addiction.

You can read the publication via the below link:

Panagiotidi, M. (2017). Problematic Video Game Play and ADHD Traits in an Adult Population. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 20(5), 292-295.

The full version of the article is available to the public until 19/06: http://bit.ly/2rby9zR


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Dr Maria Panagiotidi is one of a number of research-active psychologists based in the Department of Psychology at Staffordshire University. The Department offers a range of undergraduate and postgraduate degrees in Psychology at the University’s £30 million Science Centre in Stoke-on-Trent.

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