Video game addiction and its possible negative effects on social skills and empathy in adolescents

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Conmy, Eileen
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MA in Addiction Studies
Dublin Business School
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The present research is an investigation of video game addiction and its possible negative effects on adolescents with regard to social skills and empathy. The use of video gaming as a form of escapism is also explored. This study aims to investigate if there is a problem with video game addiction in a sample of Irish adolescents as research on video game addiction in Ireland is sparse. The present study is a cross sectional quasi-experimental between subjects design which surveyed 251 secondary school students aged 13 to 19 (147 male, 103 female, 1 undisclosed) using a demographic questionnaire, the Problem Video Game Playing Scale (Tejeiro Salguero and Bersabe Moran, 2002), the Matson evaluation of Social Skills with Youngsters (Teodoro, Kappler, Rodrigues, de Freitas and Haase, 2005) and the Emotional Empathy Scale (Dillard and Hunter, 1989). The predictor variables are age, gender, preference for violent or non-violent games, time spent gaming daily, escapism, on-line gaming and gaming addiction. The criterion variables are social skills, levels of empathy and academic achievement. The questionnaires were anonymous and informed consent was given by all of the participants prior to the research taking place. The questionnaires were distributed to students by their teachers. The data was analysed using a multiple regression analysis and a series of independent t-tests. The results showed that 23% of the sample of video game players were addicted to video games and the majority of participants preferred violent games. As hypothesised addicted video game players, participants who preferred violent games and participants who used video games as a form of escapism had poorer social skills and lower levels of empathy. There was no significant relationship between video game addiction and academic achievement. It is concluded that video game addiction is a problem that affects a minority of individuals in early adolescence. Prevention strategies and treatment implication are discussed.