Twelve percent of Japanese people age 10 to 29 play smartphone and video games for six hours or more on their days off school or work, a survey showed Wednesday.
The survey also found that those who play games for long periods tend to show signs of addiction, including not being able to stop despite mental and physical distress and the games having negative impacts on their studies or work.
The fact-finding investigation was conducted with health ministry support by the National Hospital Organization Kurihama Medical and Addiction Center in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture. The survey, the first of its kind, came after the World Health Organization decided to recognize gaming disorder as a medical condition in May.
Some 85 percent of survey respondents played smartphone or video games in the past year, with around 80 percent using smartphones to play games.
The share of respondents who said they played games for under one hour a day was 40.1 percent on weekdays and 25.0 percent for non-workdays, the biggest group in each category. Those who said they played for six hours or more per day stood at 2.8 percent for weekdays and 12 percent for non-workdays.
Only 1.7 percent of those who played games for under one hour per day on weekdays said they continued playing the games despite adverse effects on their studies or jobs. That figure rose to 24.8 percent for those who played six hours or more per day. Of those who played games for longer hours, 14.9 percent said they continued playing the games despite slight negative effects caused to relationships with friends or partners.
Of respondents who played for six hours or more per day, 40.5 percent said they continued playing through physical ailments such as backaches and headaches, while 37.2 percent said they continued to play despite experiencing mental issues such as sleeping disorders and depression.
“We were able to show numerically for the first time that dependency and issues resulting from it occurred more frequently among those who play games for longer periods,” said Susumu Higuchi, head of the Kurihama Medical and Addiction Center.
The survey was conducted from January to March on random samples of people age 10 to 29. Of the 9,000 people sampled, 5,096 gave valid responses.
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