Autistic boys spend more time playing video games

Image: PD 

1. Boys with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) spent significantly more time playing video games than those with typical development (TD). 

2. Boys with ASD and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) had more problematic video game use, as indicated by higher scores on the problem video game playing test (PVGT), than those with TD. 

3. Inattentive symptoms predicted higher PVGT scores in both the ASD and ADHD groups. 

Evidence Rating Level: 2 (Good)            

Study Rundown: Both children with ASD and ADHD have been found to exhibit higher levels of problematic or addictive video game use than those with TD. Also, ASD and ADHD symptomatology have been associated with excessive video game use, which may lead to poor functional effects. Results from this study indicate that boys with ASD spent more time playing video games than those with TD, while boys with ADHD did not differ significantly from either group. Furthermore, boys with ASD and ADHD had higher PVGT scores, suggesting more problematic video game use, than those with TD. Specifically, inattention predicted higher PVGT scores in boys with ASD and ADHD, while role-playing game genre predicted higher PVGT scores in ASD only. Limitations include parental self-report bias and small sample size. Nonetheless, these findings shed light on specific symptoms that may facilitate excessive and problematic video game use, highlighting the need for longitudinal studies to examine long-term outcomes in these populations.

Click to read the study, published today in Pediatrics

Relevant Reading: Video game playing, attention problems, and impulsiveness: Evidence of bidirectional causality

In-Depth [retrospective cross-sectional study]: This study included the parents of 141 boys (56 with ASD, 44 with ADHD, and 41 with TD) ages 8 and 18 years (mean 11.7). Video game use was assessed using a questionnaire, while problematic video game use was assessed with a modified PVGT. Boys with ASD spent significantly more time playing video games than those with TD (2.1 vs 1.2 h/d; p = .01, d = .80), while boys with ADHD did not differ from those with ASD or TD. Also, a greater proportion of boys with ASD (P = .001) and ADHD (p = .002) had video game systems in their bedrooms than those with TD. Similarly, both the ASD and ADHD groups had higher PVGT scores than the TD group (p = .001, d = 1.12; p = .03, d = .98). In both ASD and ADHD, PVGT scores correlated with inattention.

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