Excessive use of video games in adolescence: health and sociality in danger. The results of a study

Research by CNR’s Institute of Clinical Physiology, University of Padua and Flinders University has revealed how socio-economic factors can influence the risk of problem gambling among European adolescents. The study reports that 20% of young people are at high risk and that boys are three times more exposed than their peers. Denmark and Romania have respectively the lowest (12%) and highest (30%) percentages of the phenomenon. Italy is above the European average with around 24%. The role of family and social policies is positive. The research was published in Addiction

Rome, March 24, 2022 – Research conducted by the Institute of Clinical Physiology of the National Research Council (Cnr-Ifc), the Department of Developmental and Social Psychology of the University of Padua (Unipd) and the Australia’s Flinders University, studied how individual, social and contextual factors are associated with an increased risk for European adolescents of problem gambling (video game use), i.e. excessive use of video games that can endanger health and promote school dropout and ailments. The study was published in the journal Addiction.

The research analyzed data from the 2019 ESPAD (European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs) study, regarding the gambling behaviors of 89,000 adolescents aged 15-16 living in 30 European countries.

“We found that one in five children in Europe is at high risk for problem gambling (around 20%). The exposure of boys (30.8%) to the phenomenon is three times higher than that of girls (9.4%). It also appeared that adolescents residing in Denmark report the lowest levels of problem gambling (12%), while those in Romania report a greater perception of problems related to the use of video games (30.2%) – explains Sabrina Molinaro, researcher at the Cnr. -Ifc and study coordinator – The percentage of Italian students at high risk of problem gambling (23.9%) is higher than the European average, with more boys (34%) perceiving negative consequences related to gambling than girls (12.8%)”.

Family history and national policies can reduce the likelihood that adolescents will experience problematic video game use. “Research indicates how the presence of parental rules and family emotional support protects adolescence from excessive and distorted use of video games – concludes Alessio Vieno, professor Unipd – Finally, the risk of problem gambling is greater in the States where economic inequalities are greater, while it is lower in countries where there is investment in public health policies, such as tax benefits for families”.

Research seems to confirm the centrality of emotional support from the family in preventing the phenomenon and the importance of social protection policies, through which greater economic support can improve the quality of the parent-child relationship and provide resources for alternative recreational activities for healthy adolescent development.

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