Friday, December 16, 2022

Too Much Screen Time Associated With Increased Risk of OCD in Children

Excessive screen time watching videos and playing video games is associated with an increased risk of children developing obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), a study in the Journal of Adolescent Health suggests.

Jason M. Nagata, M.D., M.S.C., of the University of California, San Francisco, and colleagues analyzed data from 9,208 children who participated in the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development Study. The participants were enrolled between 2016 and 2018, when they were between 9 and 10 years old, and 666 of the children had OCD at baseline. Participants answered questions about the typical number of hours per day they spent viewing TV shows or movies, watching videos, playing video games, texting, video chatting, or using social media. Parents of the participants were then asked two years later about participants’ OCD symptoms and diagnoses.

At baseline, youth on average reported 3.9 hours of screen time per day, with most of this time spent watching TV shows/movies, playing video games, and watching videos online. At follow-up two years later, 6.1% of the sample met diagnostic criteria for OCD, including 4.4% new cases of OCD.

The researchers found that each additional hour of total screen time was associated with a greater risk of OCD. Playing video games was most strongly associated with increased risk: After accounting for participants who had OCD at baseline, the researchers found that each additional hour spent on video games was associated with a 13% higher risk of developing OCD. Each additional hour spent watching videos was associated with 11% higher risk.

“[V]ideo game use could promote perfectionism where users may prioritize the need to attain a perfect score or exceed a previous best score,” Nagata and colleagues wrote. “Watching videos (such as on YouTube) could allow for compulsive viewing of homogenous content, which may be facilitated through algorithms or advertisements suggesting related content. Repeatedly watching the same or similar content could lead to overestimation of threats that could contribute to obsessions.”

The researchers concluded, “The findings should increase awareness around screen use and its possible role in OCD development. Videos and video games … offer focus points for future research and interventions to prevent OCD development in early adolescence.”

For related information, see the Psychiatric News AlertExcessive Screen Time in Childhood Linked to Binge-Eating Disorder.”

(Image: iStock/Jcomp)

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