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NIMF Urges 'Thoughtful Conversation' In Game Addiction Study Debate

The National Institute on Media and the Family is urging attention to the over-arching issue of game addiction -- even if the statistics in a recently-disputed study are questionable.
The National Institute on Media and the Family is weighing in on an ongoing debate surrounding a recent study that claims to prove gaming addiction, urging attention to the over-arching issue. A study recently released by Dr. Douglas Gentile of Iowa State University purported to show that 1 in 10 gamers suffer symptoms of traditional addiction, like lying about play habits, becoming irritable when not playing, and stealing to support their habit. Its release was followed by dispute from the Entertainment Software Association, which claimed that the research methodology was flawed. "Everyone knows at least one child who has struggled with balancing healthy game playing with academics and family life. Unfortunately, as Dr. Gentile’s study suggests, some children have more significant problems with gaming," wrote NIMF in a statement released today. Rather than address the issue of gaming addiction specifically, the ESA pointed out that Dr. Gentile's study, which gained attention because of the specificity of its statistics and its claim of a 3 percent margin of error, was unreliably based on an opt-in, possibly incentivized survey sampling and not a random population. But NIMF now asks that statistics aside, the study opens the doors for needed discussion: "Regardless of whether you agree with the exact statistics in Dr. Gentile’s study, it provides the gaming industry, medical experts, and public policymakers with a new opportunity to have a thoughtful conversation regarding the effects of video games on kids," says the organization. "One study will not determine if gaming is addictive for some kids. Again, additional research is required to determine if video games are as 'addictive' as gambling and alcohol. With this additional research, the medical community can make an educated decision on video games and addiction."

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