Video games and conduct disorder in teenage years

1) Research article: Etchells, P. et al. Prospective Investigation of Video Game Use in Children and Subsequent Conduct Disorder and Depression Using Data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children. PLOS One. Published: January 28, 2016

Abstract: There is increasing public and scientific concern regarding the long-term behavioural effects of video game use in children, but currently little consensus as to the nature of any such relationships. We investigated the relationship between video game use in children, degree of violence in games, and measures of depression and a 6-level banded measure of conduct disorder. Data from the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children were used. A 3-level measure of game use at age 8/9 years was developed, taking into account degree of violence based on game genre. Associations with conduct disorder and depression, measured at age 15, were investigated using ordinal logistic regression, adjusted for a number of potential confounders. Shoot-em-up games were associated with conduct disorder bands, and with a binary measure of conduct disorder, although the strength of evidence for these associations was weak. A sensitivity analysis comparing those who play competitive games to those who play shoot-em-ups found weak evidence supporting the hypothesis that it is violence rather than competitiveness that is associated with conduct disorder. However this analysis was underpowered, and we cannot rule out the possibility that increasing levels of competition in games may be just as likely to account for the observed associations as violent content. Overall game exposure as indicated by number of games in a household was not related to conduct disorder, nor was any association found between shoot-em-up video game use and depression.

2) Science Media Centre. Expert reaction to study reporting weak association between playing certain types of video games in childhood and risk of conduct disorder in teenage years. Published:  January 28, 2016.

Dr Max Davie, Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said:

“This paper uses the best available data to place the debate around video games and behavioural problems on a scientific, evidence-based footing.

“In doing so, they have busted some important myths. The overall amount of games played is not associated with adverse outcomes. The association between violent games and behavioural problems is weak, and only possibly causal.

“We know that all children play games. As a developmental paediatrician, the families that worry me are those that are unable to set boundaries about what games are appropriate, leading to exposure to 18 certificate games. However these are also families who struggle to set boundaries more generally. This is itself associated with later behavioural problems, and may be one of the residual confounders mentioned by the authors.

“Rather than scapegoat video games generally, it would be more sensible to focus on educating and supporting families to understand the certificate system, empowering and training parents to set boundaries, and getting retailers and publishers to show responsibility in marketing and selling violent games. That way, I may never again have to tell an outraged 8-year-old that he’s not allowed to pay Grand Theft Auto, while his mother looks on impotently.”

Read more opinions via SMC


Understanding Barriers to Healthcare for Transgender Youth

Child & Maternal Health News

Breland, D. et al. Journal of Adolescent Health. February 2016; Volume 58, Issue 2, Supplement, Pages S3–S4


There are many barriers to healthcare for transgender youth that contribute to low rates of recommended treatment for this high-risk population. Dedicated multidisciplinary gender clinics are one promising strategy to improve coordination of care for transgender individuals; however, only a limited number of medical centers house such clinics. In addition, in spite of clear recommendations from experts, most clinics do not offer pubertal blockers or cross-sex hormones to youth who meet criteria.

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Diet Quality of Adolescents With an Eating Disorder

Santiago, A. et al. Journal of Adolescent Health. Volume 58, Issue 2, Supplement, February 2016, Pages S26

21481432382_671e90f5d3_zIt has been demonstrated that patients with eating disorders present with erratic eating patterns and suboptimal daily caloric intake. However, less is known regarding the diet quality of these patients in terms of intake of macronutrients (i.e. protein, carbohydrate, and fats) and micronutrients (i.e. vitamins and minerals). The purpose of this study is to determine diet quality among patients presenting for the treatment of eating disorders using the NDSR (Nutrition Data Systems for Research) program.

Read the abstract here

Bullying and Childhood Adversity as Predictors of Non-Suicidal Self-Injury Among Sexual Minority Adolescents in the Healthy Allegheny Teen Survey

McCauley, H. et al. Journal of Adolescent Health. February 2016Volume 58, Issue 2, Supplement, Pages S105–S106


Non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI), or deliberate destruction of one’s bodily tissue without suicidal intent, is increasingly recognized as a common behavior among adolescents. Emerging research has begun to document sexual orientation disparities in NSSI, though this work has focused primarily on young adult samples and little work has been done to understand why sexual minority youth (SMY) may be at elevated risk for NSSI.

Emerging Substance Use of Teenagers With ADHD

Belanger, R. et al. Journal of Adolescent Health. February 2016 Volume 58, Issue 2, Supplement, Page S113

Image source: Raul Lieberwirth

Abstract: ADHD is a risk factor for adolescent and young adult substance use. However, emerging substance use of teenagers with ADHD is still poorly understood. The purpose of this research was to (1) assess if ADHD is linked to both initiation and current use of tobacco, alcohol and other substances in the transition from childhood to adolescence; (2) examine how important covariates may moderate the expected associations.

Read the abstract here


YoungMinds along with the Royal College of Psychiatrists and the Children and Young People’s Mental Health Coalition today launch a Commission to improve mental healthcare provision for children and young people.

The Commission, chaired by Baroness Claire Tyler, focuses on what really matters to the children and young people who rely on the support of Children and Adolescents Mental Health services (CAMHS). It enforces the importance of involving young people, their parents and their carers alongside CAMHS professionals, partner agencies and commissioner when developing how these services are delivered.


Final recommendations from the Commission include:

  • Recommendations for service providers, commissioners and managers on improvements to the current service, based on updated core values
  • Recommendations on training requirements for service providers, commissioners and managers
  • Recommendations for the education and training of CAMHS staff
  • Recommendations for key UK health organisations including Department of Health, NHS England and the devolved assemblies’ Health Services and Departments of Health

Read the full article via YoungMinds

Childhood bullying and mental illness in young adulthood

By Jasmin Wertz for the the Mental Elf Blog

Obesity - A Positive Lifestyle

This Finnish study examined different types of bullying involvement in children (bullying others, being victimised by bullying, and a combination of both) and whether they had any bearing on children’s risk of being diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder during young adulthood. Thus, it did not only consider the outcomes for children exposed to bullying, but also for children who bullied others.

The findings suggest that victims of bullying experience psychiatric problems as they grow older, regardless of whether they already experience problems when young. A potential threat to this conclusion based on this specific study is that the authors did not take many other factors into account that could explain this association. One influence that affects both children’s risk of being exposed to bullying and of developing psychiatric problems later in life is exposure to childhood adversity, such as poverty, family conflict and maltreatment. Taking these into account would have lead to firmer conclusions as to whether bullying has a specific influence over and above these factors. However, other studies have analysed these influences and obtained similar findings, supporting the conclusions drawn from this study (Takizawa, 2014).

Children who bullied others, and those who bullied others but were also being bullied, were also at increased risk for adult mental health problems. However, their higher risk appeared to be less a result of their involvement in bullying, and more a continuation of the mental health problems that they experienced alongside their bullying involvement.

This means that bullying behaviour in children may be a good indicator of concurrent mental health issues, which is an important finding because it suggests that raising awareness about bullying will not only help victims, but also be useful to identify mental health problems in bullies.

Read the full commentary via the Mental Elf

View the research article abstract here