Boys with autism spectrum disorders or attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder are more likely to play video games and are at higher risk of becoming addicted to the games, according to a study published in the August issue of Pediatrics.

Researchers surveyed the parents of nearly 150 boys ages 8 to 18 and used statistical models to predict video game use among three cohorts — boys with autism spectrum disorders, boys with ADHD and boys whose development is considered typical for their age. Boys on the autism spectrum dedicated an average of 2.1 hours per day to video games, compared to boys without either disorder, who played an average 1.2 hours per day. Boys with ADHD played an average 1.7 hours of video games per day, but the difference between their group and the control group was not statistically significant.

Parents whose sons had ADHD or autism were also more likely to report that their sons had difficulty disengaging from the games and were more likely to play games in their bedrooms, where use was more difficult to monitor, according to the study.

The relationship between video games and these two specific disorders is unclear and warrants further research, the study's authors said. Other experts have suggested that video games could have greater appeal to boys with autism because the games are highly repetitive, entertaining and do not require face-to-face interaction with their peers.

The study's authors also surveyed parents about their sons' favorite games, and found that typically developing boys were more likely to play first-person shooting games and sports games. Role-playing games were slightly more popular among boys with autism.

Additionally, the study noted a relationship between the number of hours spent playing video games and the likelihood that a given boy might become addicted to the games.