The study objectives were to examine video game use in boys with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) compared with those with ADHD or typical development (TD) and to examine how specific symptoms and game features relate to problematic video game use across groups.
Participants included parents of boys (aged 8–18) with ASD (n = 56), ADHD (n = 44), or TD (n = 41). Questionnaires assessed daily hours of video game use, in-room video game access, video game genres, problematic video game use, ASD symptoms, and ADHD symptoms.
Boys with ASD spent more time than did boys with TD playing video games (2.1 vs 1.2 h/d). Both the ASD and ADHD groups had greater in-room video game access and greater problematic video game use than the TD group. Multivariate models showed that inattentive symptoms predicted problematic game use for both the ASD and ADHD groups; and preferences for role-playing games predicted problematic game use in the ASD group only.
Boys with ASD spend much more time playing video games than do boys with TD, and boys with ASD and ADHD are at greater risk for problematic video game use than are boys with TD. Inattentive symptoms, in particular, were strongly associated with problematic video game use for both groups, and role-playing game preferences may be an additional risk factor for problematic video game use among children with ASD. These findings suggest a need for longitudinal research to better understand predictors and outcomes of video game use in children with ASD and ADHD.