Addictive Gaming Behaviours–implications for EdTech?

July 2, 2009

Just finished reading quite an interesting study on addictive behaviour in video gamers 8-18 years old  (U.S.), “Pathological Video-Game Use Among Youth Ages 8 to 18: A National Study”(Douglas Gentile, ‘‘Pathological Video-Game Use Among Youth
Ages 8 to 18: A National Study,’’ Psychological Science, Volume
20, Number 5, pp. 594–602.).

Findings & Some Gender Differences

The study is the first one of its kind on a national rather than regional scope. The study found that in a national sample of American youth aged 8-18, 88% played video games at least “occasionally”. Of that group, about 8% exhibited pathological gaming behaviour (addictive behaviour) as measured on scales similar to those used to measure addictive gambling behaviour.

On average, the study found that youth who gamed did so 3-4 times per week for a total of an average of 13.2 hours per week. It found a significant difference in gender where boys’ average use was 16.4 hours/week while girls’ use was 9.2 hours/week.  I wonder if the numbers would be flipped for use of social networking software, i.e. that girls would spend a significantly greater amount of time than boys on social sites. It seems there are indications that this might be so at least from the PEW research,”Social Networking Websites and Teens: An Overview” (

Older girls ages 15-17 are more likely to have used social networking sites and created online profiles; 70% of older girls have used an online social network compared with 54% of older boys, and 70% of older girls have created an online profile, while only 57% of older boys have done so.

Gentile’s study found additional gender differences: boys were 2x more likely to own mature rated games, and more girls than boys “reported trying to reduce their video-game play”.

The study also found that 20% of pathological gamers reported that gaming interfered with schoolwork or tests, 23% skipped homework to play games, and 25% reported using games to “escape problems”.  The ownership of “mature” games was 22% for 8-11, 41% for 12-14 & 56% of 15-18 year olds. Remember I said they found that boys were two times more likely to own “mature” rated games–and the study cites other findings that playing these types of games has been tied to violent behaviours.

The study found that “frequency of video-game play appeared to stay relatively steady from 8-13, and to decrease thereafter” but that “although adolescents play…less frequently as they grow older, they appear to increase their playing time per session.”

ADD, ADHD & Pathological Gaming

The study also found comorbidity–or a co-presence of attention issues with pathological gaming. ADD & ADHD were mentioned specifically. However, the study was unable to discover whether the attention issues were distinct from the pathological gaming, whether they contributed to pathological gaming or whether pathological gaming contributed to attention issues. Clearly this merits further investigation.

And where are the parents in all this?

Well according to the findings, of all the gaming homes, only 50% of them had any rules about video-game use. Of that 50%, only 40% (20% overall) had rules about how much time youth could play, and 56% (28% overall) had rules regarding the gaming content.

Implications for Educational Gaming?

So, if we look at the statistics–approximatley 6.8% of youth aged 8-18 could be susceptible to addictive gaming behaviours– or 8% of the 86% of gamers. If that is so, does that mean that use of educational gaming could contribute to addictive behaviours in academically at-risk youth? Would this affect the development of educational gaming due to potential liability issues? Does this raise moral issues about the use of educational gaming in a general school population?

I’m not sure, but it definitely raises these considerations for me. Your thoughts?


Being Smart About When You’re Being Dumb…

May 16, 2009

So I installed Camtasia and have been working with one version or another for the last couple of years. Most of the time I’ve been using it for creating software support training clips. The last version kindly installed a toolbar in PowerPoint which I have stupidly–and consistently–ignored because PowerPoint has its own narration feature. Yet, I continued to suffer through the training PPT that would launch for Camtasia each time I opened PPT ’07thinking that someday I would actually look at it or click the supplied training support clip links on it’s opening screen. This went on for awhile–could have turned it off, but it was my annoying reminder that I hadn’t looked at this function and thought I should at some point. Today was it–as I had a spare couple of minutes.

So, while repuroposing some PPT presentations on things like delicious, I finally took a look at what the Camtasia PPT add-in will do. It allows me to narrate–not such an exciting feature since PPT has this built in. More interestingly, it will extend my narration past the PPT presentation if I want to launch an app or anything else, but the HUGE useful piece for me is that when you switch/select to edit the Camtasia recording, the Camtasia Studio software automatically sets markers at the begining of each slide. Saves a pile of work–as I can then automatically split at those markers and intersperse screen shots of the software in action at those relevant points. One item though, the Camtasia recording of PPT–unlike the narration capture native to PPT–acts as a screen capture, so if you’re waving your cursor around the screen–that will appear in your Camtasia recording where it doesn’t in the native PPT narration–which is audio capture only synchronized with your slide advances.

I’ll be playing with the Camtasia Add-in in the coming week–but since boys are home sick this weekend–too bad on  the long weekend–I’ll have to wait until they’re sleeping to get a solid narration recorded….

Trying to be smart about when I’ve been dumb…..