Pattern of video game use in children with attention-deficit-hyperactivity disorder and typical development

Pediatr Int. 2018 Jun;60(6):523-528. doi: 10.1111/ped.13564.


Background: Video game playing is a favorite leisure activity among children worldwide. Individuals with attention-deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) often lack self-control, making them at risk for substance abuse and game addiction. There are conflicting results, however, between studies on the pattern of video gaming and game addiction between those with ADHD and healthy controls. We therefore compared the pattern of video game use and game addiction between Thai children with ADHD and healthy controls.

Methods: A total of 80 participants with ADHD (median age, 9.5 years) and 102 controls (median age, 10 years) were recruited in this study. ADHD was diagnosed by a developmental pediatrician. Each control subject's teacher completed the ADHD questionnaire to ensure that they did not have the diagnosis of ADHD. Pattern of video game use and Game Addiction Screening Test (GAST) were completed by participants' parents.

Results: More than half of the children with and without ADHD spent >2 h/day playing video games rather than engaging in other age-appropriate leisure activities, particularly on weekends. Participants with ADHD, however, had a higher rate of compulsive video game use than controls (37.5% vs 11.8%, P < 0.001).

Conclusions: Although video game playing was relatively prevalent in children regardless of ADHD status, those with ADHD had a higher rate of problematic video game use than controls. The pattern of leisure activities including video game use should be assessed during health supervision visits. As such, those at risk for game addiction could be identified early, resulting in appropriate intervention.

Keywords: attention-deficit-hyperactivity disorder; game addiction; pathological gaming; video game.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / psychology*
  • Behavior, Addictive / diagnosis
  • Behavior, Addictive / psychology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Child
  • Child Behavior / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Video Games / psychology*
  • Young Adult