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Video Games, Media and Mental Health

By on December 7, 2012
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If you are a brother who lives for the latest video game, lives by your smartphone, engaged in social media and is an avid television viewer- you may be headed for mental depression or anxiety.

According to a research study on youth and media consumption, African-American children use the media more than other races.  The study of 8-18 year olds was conducted by Northwestern University and focused on African American, Caucasian, Hispanic, and Asian youth. The Children, Media, and Race: Media Use among White, Black, Hispanic, and Asian American Cultures study focused on the differences of media usage and consumption among races.

According to the study, African Americans and Hispanics absorb more than three hours of television a day. This consumption is increased through media such as Internet. Television consumption increased to five hours and 54 minutes for African-American children, five hours and 21 minutes for Asians, and three hours and 36 minutes for whites.

Couple this data with new research that indicates that people who use multiple media — such  as playing a computer game while watching TV — have a higher risk of of anxiety and depression. This could be devastating for a generation of youth and young adults down the road.

Lead investigator Mark Becker of Michigan State University said he was  surprised to find such a clear association between media multitasking and mental  health problems, but he is not clear why it occurred.

“We don’t know whether the media multitasking is causing symptoms of  depression and social anxiety, or if it’s that people who are depressed and  anxious are turning to media multitasking as a form of distraction from their  problems,” Becker said. He went on to add that overall media use among U.S. youth increased 20% in the past decade,  but the amount of time spent multitasking with media spiked 120% during  that same period.

Becker and colleagues Reem Alzahabi and Christopher Hopwood surveyed 319 individuals on  how many hours per week they used two or more of the primary forms of media,  which included television, music, cellphones, text messaging, computer and video  games, Web surfing and others.

For the mental health survey, the researchers used well-established measures,  although the results do not reflect a clinical diagnosis, Becker said. The study was published in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social  Networking.

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