Problem Video Gaming Among Children Enrolled in Tertiary Weight Management Programs

Cyberpsychol Behav Soc Netw. 2017 Feb;20(2):109-116. doi: 10.1089/cyber.2016.0386.


Prior studies show seven percent to nine percent of children demonstrate gaming behaviors that affect a child's ability to function (e.g., problem gaming), but none have examined the association between problem gaming and weight status. The objective of this study was to determine the prevalence of problem gaming among children enrolled in tertiary weight management programs. We administered a computer-based survey to a convenience sample of children aged 11-17 years enrolled in five geographically diverse pediatric weight management (PWM) programs in the COMPASS (Childhood Obesity Multi-Program Analysis and Study System) network. The survey included demographics, gaming characteristics, and a problem gaming assessment. The survey had 454 respondents representing a diverse cohort (53 percent females, 27 percent black, 24 percent Hispanic, 41 percent white) with mean age of 13.7 years. A total of 8.2 percent of respondents met criteria for problem gaming. Problem gamers were more likely to be white, male, play mature-rated games, and report daily play. Children in PWM programs reported problem gaming at the same rate as other pediatric populations. Screening for problem gaming provides an opportunity for pediatricians to address gaming behaviors that may affect the health of children with obesity who already are at risk for worsened health and quality of life.

Keywords: pediatric; problem video gaming; weight management program.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Body Weight / physiology*
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Obesity
  • Video Games / statistics & numerical data*