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Stuck on screens: patterns of computer and gaming station use in youth seen in a psychiatric clinic.

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British Columbia Children's Hospital, British Columbia Mental Health and Addiction Services, Vancouver, British Columbia.



Computer and gaming-station use has become entrenched in the culture of our youth. Parents of children with psychiatric disorders report concerns about overuse, but research in this area is limited. The goal of this study is to evaluate computer/gaming-station use in adolescents in a psychiatric clinic population and to examine the relationship between use and functional impairment.


102 adolescents, ages 11-17, from out-patient psychiatric clinics participated. Amount of computer/gaming-station use, type of use (gaming or non-gaming), and presence of addictive features were ascertained along with emotional/functional impairment. Multivariate linear regression was used to examine correlations between patterns of use and impairment.


Mean screen time was 6.7±4.2 hrs/day. Presence of addictive features was positively correlated with emotional/functional impairment. Time spent on computer/gaming-station use was not correlated overall with impairment after controlling for addictive features, but non-gaming time was positively correlated with risky behavior in boys.


Youth with psychiatric disorders are spending much of their leisure time on the computer/gaming-station and a substantial subset show addictive features of use which is associated with impairment. Further research to develop measures and to evaluate risk is needed to identify the impact of this problem.


adolescence; computer addiction; internet addiction; video games


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