Video gaming in school children: How much is enough?

Pujol, J. et al. (2016) Annals of Neurology. 80(3) pp. 424-433


Objective: Despite extensive debate, the proposed benefits and risks of video gaming in young people remain to be empirically clarified, particularly as regards an optimal level of use.

Methods: In 2,442 children aged 7 to 11 years, we investigated relationships between weekly video game use, selected cognitive abilities, and conduct-related problems. A large subgroup of these children (n = 260) was further examined with magnetic resonance imaging approximately 1 year later to assess the impact of video gaming on brain structure and function.

Results: Playing video games for 1 hour per week was associated with faster and more consistent psychomotor responses to visual stimulation. Remarkably, no further change in motor speed was identified in children playing >2 hours per week. By comparison, the weekly time spent gaming was steadily associated with conduct problems, peer conflicts, and reduced prosocial abilities. These negative implications were clearly visible only in children at the extreme of our game-playing distribution, with 9 hours or more of video gaming per week. At a neural level, changes associated with gaming were most evident in basal ganglia white matter and functional connectivity.

Interpretation: Significantly better visuomotor skills can be seen in school children playing video games, even with relatively small amounts of use. Frequent weekly use, by contrast, was associated with conduct problems. Further studies are needed to determine whether moderate video gaming causes improved visuomotor skills and whether excessive video gaming causes conduct problems, or whether children who already have these characteristics simply play more video games.

Read the abstract here


Children’s mental health pilot aims to bridge care ‘disconnect’

Gamme, J. HSJ | Published online: 5 September 2016

  • Pilot project for CAMHS aims to bridge disconnect between community and inpatient care
  • West London project one of two granted devolved commissioning powers to create new care models in the sector
  • Project leaders hope to integrate tier three and four CAMHS services to reduce number of admissions and length of stay in inpatient units

SERVICE DESIGN: A pilot project is aiming to bring greater integration to children’s mental health services and break the “disconnect” between community and inpatient care.

The West London CAMHS pilot is one of two projects in the sector with devolved commissioning powers to create new care models for tertiary mental health services.

The scheme is a partnership between West London Mental Health Trust; Central and North West London Foundation Trust; Priory Group; and the region’s clinical commissioning groups.

West London Mental Health’s director of business and strategy, Chris Hilton, said the pilot project will bring together tier three (community and outpatient services) and tier four (inpatient services) CAMHS to provide more care in the community, reducing admissions and lengths of stay.

Plans for the pilot project include:

  • tier three and four staff creating joint care plans for every child and young person admitted to inpatient beds;
  • community teams to work with tier four staff to work out what care is needed to help discharge a patient as quickly as clinically possible; and
  • working with out of area inpatients and tier four teams to develop plans to bring them back to local services where clinically appropriate.

Read the full article here

Further information on the Priory CAMHs services can be found here

Is social media to blame for the worsening mental health of teenage girls?

Ramsden, P. The Conversation | Published online: 25 August 2016


New research by the Department of Education has found that the mental well-being of teenage girls in the UK is worsening. The survey, which took the views of 30,000 14-year-old pupils in 2005 and 2014, found that 37% of girls suffer from psychological distress, up from 34% in 2005. (This compares with 15% for boys in 2014, down from 17% a decade earlier.) The report’s authors noted that one of the things that has changed between 2005 and 2014 is the “advent of the social media age”.

The adolescent years are a time of rapid physical, cognitive and emotional development. Teenagers interact with people in order to learn how to become competent adults. In the past they would engage with parents, teachers and other adults in their community as well as extended family members and friends. Now we can also add social media to that list of social and emotional development. But why should the advent of social media be a problem?

Read the full article here

I Should but I Can’t: Controlled Motivation and Self-Efficacy Are Related to Disordered Eating Behaviors in Adolescents With Type 1 Diabetes

Eisenberg, M.H. Journal of Adolescent Health. Published online: August 2016


Purpose: Among adolescents with type 1 diabetes, disordered eating behaviors (DEBs) are more prevalent and have more serious health implications than in adolescents without diabetes, necessitating identification of modifiable correlates of DEB in this population. This study hypothesized that (1) autonomous motivation and (2) controlled motivation for healthy eating (i.e., eating healthfully because it is important to oneself vs. important to others, respectively) are associated with DEB among adolescents with type 1 diabetes. The third hypothesis was that baseline healthy eating self-efficacy moderates these associations.

Methods: Adolescents with type 1 diabetes (n = 90; 13–16 years) participating in a behavioral nutrition intervention efficacy trial reported DEB, controlled and autonomous motivation, and self-efficacy at baseline, 6, 12, and 18 months. Linear-mixed models estimated associations of controlled and autonomous motivation with DEB, adjusting for treatment group, body mass index, socioeconomic status, age, and gender. Separate models investigated the interaction of self-efficacy with each motivation type.

Results: Controlled motivation was positively associated with DEB (B = 2.18 ± .33, p < .001); the association was stronger for those with lower self-efficacy (B = 3.33 ± .55, p < .001) than those with higher self-efficacy (B = 1.36 ± .36, p < .001). Autonomous motivation was not associated with DEB (B = −.70 ± .43, p = .11).

Conclusions: Findings identify controlled motivation for healthy eating as a novel correlate of DEB among adolescents with type 1 diabetes and show that self-efficacy can modify this association. Motivation and self-efficacy for healthy eating represent potential intervention targets to reduce DEB in adolescents with type 1 diabetes.

Read the abstract here

Gender and children and young people’s emotional and mental health: manifestations and responses

Hamblin, E. Gender and children and young people’s emotional and mental health: manifestations and responses. A rapid review of the evidence. | National Childrens Bureau


This document aims to provide a snapshot of the most recent and salient evidence from published research and grey literature, as relevant to children and young people living in England in 2016. It addresses children and young people’s emotional and mental health difficulties as they manifest and are responded to, highlighting and exploring gender-related issues behind observed patterns across areas of mental health.

This rapid review presents evidence of clear gender differences in children and young people’s emotional and mental health, in terms of:

1. the general picture of children and young people’s emotional and mental health

2. the prevalence of specific difficulties and issues among children and young people

3. children and young people’s coping strategies and help-seeking behaviours

4. responses to children and young people’s emotional and mental health needs from parents and carers, schools, and public services

5. service responses to the needs of some particular groups of children and young people.


Negative Experiences on Facebook and Depressive Symptoms Among Young Adults

Rosenthal,S. et al. Journal of Adolescent Mental Health. Published online: August 2016


Purpose: To examine whether negative Facebook (FB) experiences were independently associated with depressive symptoms among young adults in a longitudinal family cohort.

Methods: Negative FB experiences were measured by type (e.g., bullying or meanness, unwanted contact, misunderstandings, or any), recency, number of experiences, and severity of upset. Depressive symptoms were assessed using the 10-item Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale. Generalized estimating equations were used to account for sibling correlation; adjusted models were constructed for each negative FB experience measure accounting for sex, race/ethnicity, social support, adolescent depressive symptoms, parental psychological distress, average monthly income, educational attainment, and employment.

Results: In a sample of 264 young adults, all negative FB experience measures were significantly associated with depressive symptoms.

Conclusions: There is a clear association between negative FB experience and depressive symptoms. Future work should examine: (1) whether negative FB experiences cause incident depression or exacerbate preexisting depression; and (2) who is most prone to being upset by negative FB experiences. With further research, recommendations for limiting or altering FB use among high-risk subpopulations could be useful in reducing depressive symptoms.

Read the abstract here

Trends in parent- and teacher-rated mental health problems among 10- and 11-year-olds in Great Britain

Gutman, L.M. et al. Child and Adolescent Mental Health | Published online: 12 August 2016


Background: Previous evidence indicates that mental health problems are becoming more common for adolescents. Less is known about whether these trends have continued and there has been no study to date which has specifically focused on early adolescents over a sufficiently long period. This study examines changes in parent- and teacher-reported mental health problems among 10- and 11-year-olds in 1999, 2004 and 2012 in Great Britain.

Method: Parent and teacher ratings of the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire were used to compare the prevalence of conduct problems, hyperactivity/inattention, emotional problems, peer problems and total difficulties among 10- and 11-year-olds in three nationally representative British samples assessed in 1999 (n = 1904), 2004 (n = 1348) and 2012 (n = 11,397).

Results: Teacher reports showed improving trends for boys’ and girls’ mental health from 1999 to 2012, particularly for externalizing behaviours (i.e. conduct problems and hyperactivity/inattention). Parent reports, on the other hand, identified only one area of sustained improvement between 1999 and 2012, namely hyperactivity/inattention among boys. Although parent reports of girls’ mental health indicate improving trends from 1999 to 2004, they also suggest worsening mental health from 2004.

Conclusions: These findings suggest that perceptions of emotional and behavioural problems vary by the gender of the adolescent, the context in which they are observed or by whom they are reported.

Read the abstract here