Is the videogame addiction story science or politics

It may be true that constant use of video games is a symptom of ADHD. It may be there is something to what Dr. Gentile is saying.But there's also no doubt the man and the group funding his research have an agenda

At first glance, it sounds scary.

Nearly one in 10 youth gamers are addicted to video games. Look it's even in USA Today. It's getting published in a real scientific journal.

Now dig deeper.

This is an analysis of data from one Harris Poll, taken in early 2007. What Douglas Gentile of Iowa State University did was apply The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) to the answers given. (To the right, Gentile, from his Web site, Drdouglas.org.)

The DSM is used by psychiatrists and psychologists to identify, categorize, and treat mental illness.

Gentile says he found that 12 percent of the boys, and 8 percent of the girls, answered that they exhibited at least six of the 11 symptoms the DSM defines as addictive behavior. Read the full paper at Gentile's Web site.

Now, who is Doug Gentile? He's research director for a Minneapolis group called the National Institute on Media and the Family. The NIMF has been campaigning against video games, and TV, since its founding in 1996.

Not all video games, of course. Just the nasty and violent ones. It says a study, also be Gentile, says non-violent games may enhance pro-social behaviors. It has a partnership with Microsoft called Get Game Smart against violent games.

Gentile says he hopes his study can convince the American Psychiatric Association to put video game addiction into the DSM protocol. He says video game "addicts" are far more likely to be diagnosed with ADHD, although he does not answer whether that is cause or effect.

In the past NIMF has campaigned for Internet censorware, gotten into a public spat with Nintendo about a new game, been attacked by the group doing video game ratings, and gotten verbal lashings directly from gamers.

It may be true that constant use of video games is a symptom of ADHD. It may be there is something to what Dr. Gentile is saying.

But there's also no doubt the man and the group funding his research have an agenda, and even if they're less gung-ho than some, it would be useful to get some truly objective research done before we go locking up the kids' PCs.