Attention problems and pathological gaming: resolving the 'chicken and egg' in a prospective analysis

Psychiatr Q. 2014 Mar;85(1):103-10. doi: 10.1007/s11126-013-9276-0.


Pathological gaming (PG) behaviors are behaviors which interfere with other life responsibilities. Continued debate exists regarding whether symptoms of PG behaviors are a unique phenomenon or arise from other mental health problems, including attention problems. Development of attention problems and occurrence of pathological gaming in 144 adolescents were followed during a 1-year prospective analysis. Teens and their parents reported on pathological gaming behaviors, attention problems, and current grade point average, as well as several social variables. Results were analyzed using regression and path analysis. Attention problems tended to precede pathological gaming behaviors, but the inverse was not true. Attention problems but not pathological gaming predicted lower GPA 1 year later. Current results suggest that pathological gaming arises from attention problems, but not the inverse. These results suggest that pathological gaming behaviors are symptomatic of underlying attention related mental health issues, rather than a unique phenomenon.

MeSH terms

  • Achievement
  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Development / physiology*
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / complications
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / physiopathology*
  • Child
  • Educational Measurement
  • Female
  • Gambling / etiology
  • Gambling / physiopathology*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prospective Studies
  • Students / psychology*
  • Students / statistics & numerical data