Video game addiction is a growing problem in modern society. While some people are not aware of it, others call video games “the new drug.”
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In 2019, the World Health Organization recognized “Gaming Disorder” as a mental health condition. It will be officially added to the International Classification of Diseases, ICD-11, in 2022.
Unfortunately, video game addiction hasn’t always got the attention it deserves with mental health experts and research funding focused on other disorders – such as gambling and substance abuse.
Even though the field of video game addiction research and treatment is not yet fully understood and developed, there are many high-quality papers and studies into video game addiction statistics, demographics, and prevalence rates that provide us with valuable insight into the depth of the problem.
Let’s take a look at the most interesting video game addiction statistics.
General Video Game Addiction Statistics
Here are some key video game addiction statistics:
- Over two billion people play video games worldwide, and the number is likely to surpass three billion by 2023.
- 3-4% of gamers are addicted to video games. In a 2021 systematic review and meta-analysis, the global prevalence of gaming disorder was found to be 3.05%. That means there can be as many as 60 million people (or more) suffering from gaming disorder.
- Between 0.3% and 1% of the general population have symptoms associated with gaming disorder.
- 8.5% of youths aged between 8-18 suffer from gaming disorder.
- 49% of all American adults have played video games, but only 10% consider themselves “gamers.”
If you take a look at the general video game addiction statistics, you can see that millions of people worldwide suffer from gaming disorders. The conservative estimate of addicted gamers is around 60 million.
Gaming as an activity is continuing to grow every year. In 2015, there were 1.9 billion gamers; in 2021, there are an estimated 2.81 billion gamers, and the number is anticipated to surpass 3 billion by the year 2023. This tells us the number of gamers suffering from gaming disorder is also going to grow each year.
Statistics by Age
Let’s take a closer look at video game addiction statistics by age.
- 90-99% of all American children play video games.
- Between 48% and 56% of young adults play video games regularly.
- The average age of a gamer is 35 years old, while the average age of a gaming addict is 24 years old.
- The majority of gamers are within the age bracket of 18 to 34 years old.
- 8.5% of children and teenagers under 18 around the world may be addicted to gaming.
- The prevalence of gaming addiction among teenagers has increased by 4% since 2007.
Statistics tell us that video gaming addiction is by far the most problematic in people aged 34 and younger, with the average age of a gaming addict being 24 years of age. This is cause for concern because the percentage of American children that play video games is now 90% or more of all children. More young people are playing video games than ever before, and they are exposed to the risks of video game addiction.
Although young adults between 18 and 24 years old tend to be the ones experiencing the most harm from their gaming, such as struggling with college or university, they often develop the problem in adolescence.
The problem of gaming addiction among children is so vast in South Korea that the government has introduced a “Shutdown law” which prevents youths of 16 and under from playing video games between 0:00 and 06:00. There are an estimated 600,000 South Korean children suffering from gaming addiction.
One of the crucial challenges we face for the future is preventing and treating gaming and tech addiction in children, which, despite all the efforts from governments worldwide, seems to still be on the rise.
Statistics by Demographics
Distribution of gamers by ethnicity in the United States:
We can see that there is a clear prevalence of Caucasian gamers in the United States, with 67% of all gamers. 15% are Hispanic, while 12% are African American, and 5% are Asian.
If you take a look at the distribution of gamers suffering from gaming disorder by ethnicity, you’ll find that 69% of all addicts are Caucasian, 13% are Asian, and 18% percent belong to the category of Other.
Statistics by Gender
According to a study from 2015 done by the Pew Research Center, the distribution of gamers between the two genders is almost even – 50% of all gamers are male, while 48% are female.
This distribution by gender might surprise some, as gaming is primarily seen as something that only boys do.
However, taking a look at gaming disorder statistics by gender, and you’ll find that 94% of all gaming addicts are males, while only 6% are females.
These numbers tell us that while the number of male and female gamers might be the same on a general level, the number of gaming addicts is currently more male-heavy.
But why does this happen? Why are there more male gaming addicts than female addicts?
This issue might be closely related to how males perceive gaming cues in their brains.
According to this study from 2018, “gaming-related cues elicit higher cravings in male subjects than female subjects.” The study found that males had greater activation in the striatum before gaming and great activation in the medial frontal gyrus after gaming. This tells us male gamers are more likely to get addicted to video games.
Another reason for statistics showing males are more likely to be gaming addicts may be due to selective sampling in research studies. Similar to conditions like Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), where females have often been under-diagnosed as they do not display the “typical hyperactivity” symptoms, female gamers may be under-represented in gaming literature as well.
Statistics by Geographical Location
According to Vladimir Poznyak, a researcher for the WHO (World Health Organization) who focuses on gaming disorder, geographical location has little to no impact on an individual’s likelihood of getting addicted to gaming.
Still, the numbers of gaming addicts will vary by country. In less developed countries of Africa, Southeast Asia, and South America, the number of gaming addicts may be lower than in Europe, North America, and parts of Asia such as Japan, China, and South Korea due to greater access to technology.
However, less developed countries are quickly catching up with global smartphone penetration estimated to be 78% or higher. With technology continuing to accelerate globally, we may see a boom of gaming addicts in the coming years and decades.
There aren’t many statistics that tell us more about gaming disorder and its correlation to location, but these are some of the more interesting ones that are available:
- 59% of all Americans play video games.
- 49% of all Europeans play video games.
- In Hong Kong, 13.9% of all students play games for at least 20 hours per week, which may lead to higher addiction rates.
- There are 665 million gamers in China.
- Around 85% of people aged between 10 and 29 play video games in Japan.
The bottom line is that gaming addiction is present worldwide. In developing countries, mobile gaming addiction is likely to be higher than computer or console game addiction, and the number of gaming addicts in developing countries is anticipated to grow in the years to come.
Covid-19 Video Game Addiction Statistics
We know that Covid-19 and its lockdowns have had a profound effect on the number of gamers around the world. The gaming industry has seen a 63% increase in games sold because of the pandemic.
These are the official numbers for video game addiction during Covid-19:
- Globally, 39% more time has been spent gaming than before.
- The market value of the video gaming industry has grown from $151 billion in 2019 to around $180 billion in 2021.
- The majority of people in the US admit spending around 59% more time in front of screens of all types.
- The prevalence of gaming addiction has increased because of Covid-19.
The pandemic has had a huge impact on the number of people addicted to video games. Gaming, gambling, loot boxes, mobile gaming, and excess use of screen time have soared sharply over the course of the pandemic.
Video Game Addiction Help
Want to know more about gaming addiction and how to overcome it? Then join us here at Game Quitters, where we provide video game addiction articles every week, along with additional resources for gamers, families, and loved ones.
- The Ultimate Guide to Quit Gaming: Respawn Gamers Program
- Reclaim Family Program to reduce gaming conflict
- Game Quitters Community Forum
- Find a video game addiction therapist near you
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