Men are apparently, according to a new study, more likely to be addicted to gaming than women. This June, the World Health Organisation classified ‘Internet Gaming Disorder’ as officially a condition which is diagnosed when the sufferer plays compulsively to the exclusion of other interests, including school and family life.
Cue a new study. Dr. Yawen Sun, the study’s senior author, said that the results had revealed a greater genetic propensity in males to become addicted to gaming. In an email to the American broadcaster CNN, Sun said: “Males with IGD (Internet Gaming Disorder) were found to be more affected by genetic influences than females with IGD.” This could be a result of “high levels of testosterone” in male teens that contribute to some of the symptoms related to gaming addiction, she added, “such as taking greater risks, being less responsive to punishment, and exhibiting more aggressive behaviours.”
The brain scans monitored activity in the brain through blood flow using an MRI scanner. Men addicted to gaming, when compared to healthy controls, showed brain function alterations in the superior frontal gyrus, an area of the brain’s prefrontal lobe that is important to impulse control. However, the brain scans of the addicted women showed no such alterations or any differences when compared to age-matched non-addicted women.
However, only 105 participants took part so no more than “tentative” conclusions can be drawn. Sun however plans a further study to test her hypotheses that men could be more susceptible to the long-term effects of gaming. She concluded: “I speculate that males are more susceptible to the effects of long-term online-game playing in comparison with females.”
However, gaming notoriously attracts the attention of scare stories and often the occasional moral panic. I am sure gamers who are old enough (regrettably I am) will remember the massive moral panic around violent video games so perhaps all studies should be taken with a pinch of salt.