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Children Addicted To Video Games, Smartphones At Risk Of Psychosis: Study

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Children Addicted To Video Games, Smartphones At Risk Of Psychosis: Study

Children Addicted To Video Games, Smartphones At Risk Of Psychosis: Study

Researchers spoke to more than 1,200 participants.

Children playing video games on gadgets like mobile phones, and iPads are more likely to suffer psychotic episodes later in life, a new study has found. The researchers from McGill University in Canada found that smartphones and social media use in adolescence is linked to paranoia, delusions, hallucinations and ‘bizarre ideas’ by the time a person reaches 23. The study, based on the analysis of the data of 1,226 participants born between 1997 and 1998, has been published in the journal JAMA Psychiatry.

“Trajectories of higher video gaming and increasing-then-decreasing (curved) computer use during adolescence were associated with higher levels of psychotic experiences at age 23 years,” the researchers – from McGill University in Canada – wrote in the study.

During the research, participants were asked questions to determine if they had experienced periods of persecutory ideations, bizarre experiences, and perceptual abnormalities. Some of these questions were: “Have you ever felt as if people seem to drop hints about you or say things with a double meaning?”, “Have you ever felt as if the thoughts in your head are not your own?” and “Have you ever heard voices when you are alone?”

Analysing the responses, the researchers reached to the conclusion that playing video games more during adolescence was associated with 3-7 per cent more psychotic experiences.

However, researchers said the technology itself is not to be blamed, adding that a child’s addiction to the devices could be a warning that they are already vulnerable to mental illness.

“Higher media use and mental health problems appear to share risk factors, such as parental mental health problems, loneliness, bullying and parent-child relational problems,” the team said in the study.

The research team also said that abruptly depriving the youngsters of screen time may not help and could be more harmful.

They hope that the study will help psychologists understand why teenagers may develop psychotic experiences and figure out how to best help them.

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