Video Game Use in Boys with Autism Spectrum Disorder and ADHD

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A study published in July 2013 in Pediatrics, the official journal of the American Academy of Pediatrics, examined video game use in boys with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) compared with those with ADHD or typical development.  The study also examined how specific symptoms and game features relate to problematic video game use across groups.

Participants of the study included parents of approximately 140 boys, aged 8-18. Questionnaires assessed daily hours of video game use, in-room video game access, video game genres, problematic video game use, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) symptoms, and ADHD symptoms.

Results of the study showed that boys with ASD spent more time than did boys with typical development playing video games (2.1 hours per day versus 1.2 hours per day). Both the ASD and ADHD groups had greater in-room video game access and greater problematic video game use than the typical development group. inattentive symptoms predicted problematic game use for both the ASD and ADHD groups; and preferences for role-playing games predicted problematic game use in the ASD group only.

The study concluded that boys with ASD spend much more time playing video games than do boys with typical development, and boys with ASD and ADHD are at greater risk for problematic video game use than are boys with typical development. Inattentive symptoms, in particular, were strongly associated with problematic video game use for both groups, and role-playing game preferences may be an additional risk factor for problematic video game use among children with ASD. These findings suggest a need for longitudinal research to better understand predictors and outcomes of video game use in children with ASD and ADHD.