Children with autism or ADHD spend TWICE as much time playing video games
Children with autism tend to prefer role-playing games while those without it prefer first-person games
Children with an autism spectrum disorder spend about twice as much time playing video games as those who do not have a developmental disability, according to a new study.
Researchers also found that children with an autism spectrum disorder or ADHD are at an increased risk of gaming addictions, compared to children without the disabilities.
‘What we found is that it looks like addictive gaming is largely driven by inattention,’ Christopher Engelhardt, from the University of Missouri in Columbia, U.S., said.
Children with an autism spectrum disorder spend about twice as much time playing video games as those who do not have a developmental disability
Previous studies have found that children with an autism spectrum disorder or ADHD spend more time playing video games and are at increased risk of gaming addictions than other children, the researchers wrote in the journal Paediatrics.
No single study, however, has looked at the three groups to see whether shared features of autism and ADHD – such as inattention or hyperactivity – seem to drive video game use.
For the new study, Mr Engelhardt and his colleague surveyed the parents of 141 boys between the ages of eight and 18. Of those, 56 had an autism spectrum disorder, 44 had ADHD, and 41 were developing normally.
Overall, they found that children with an autism spectrum disorder played – on average – 2.1 hours of video games per day.
Children with ADHD spent about 1.7 hours per day playing video games and normally developing children played about 1.2 hours per day.
Children with an autism spectrum disorder or ADHD were also more likely to have a video game system in their rooms, according to the researchers.
Children with an autism spectrum disorder or ADHD are at an increased risk of gaming addictions
The American Academy of Paediatrics recommends that children do not spend more than two hours in front of a screen per day.
The researchers also asked the parents to answer questions about the types of video games their children played the most, about their gaming behaviour, and their symptoms of hyperactivity and inattention.
While normally developing children tended to pick first-person shooter or sports games, children with autism and ADHD were more likely to play role-playing games.
Role-playing games have been linked to video game addiction in previous studies.
The researchers did find that children with an autism spectrum disorder or ADHD were more likely to exhibit symptoms of video game addiction or ‘problematic video game use’, compared to those with typical development.
Overall, they found the number of hours a child spent playing video games and inattention were linked to video game addiction.
‘Among people with autism, the score on problematic video game behaviour was driven by inattention and role-playing video games and not hyperactivity,’ Mr Engelhardt told Reuters Health.