Regular players of computer games are more likely to drink alcohol, stop talking to their family and have lower self-esteem, a new study has found.
Although "gamers" have long denied the accusation that they are anti-social loners, scientists believe they have proof that long hours spent attempting to better "top scores" could have far-reaching consequences.
The study found that regular players were also more likely to drink alcohol or use drugs than others.
"The most striking part is that everything we found clustered around video game use is negative," said Prof Laura Walker, from Brigham Young University, in Utah, who led the study.
She said previous studies had only examined the issue of aggression but added: "It appears video games are related to a host of other negative outcomes."
Research into the habits of more than 800 university students found that most of the men asked, 55 per cent, were regular players, using their games console at least every other day.
By contrast, only around 7 per cent of women admitted that they played computer games that often.
However, the games appeared to have a stronger effect on their confidence.
Female gamers were more likely to suffer low self-esteem than other women, an effect not seen among male players, the study found.
Regular gamers were also around 10 per cent more likely to drink alcohol and take drugs than students who rarely played the games.
Those who played computer games every day were three times as likely to use cannabis as those who never played, the findings, published in the Journal of Youth and Adolescence, show.
As the amount of time spent playing the games increased, the quality of relationships with friends and parents deteriorated, the study also found, although the effects were described as "modest".
Prof Walker said that it was still unclear whether playing computer games caused other social problems, or were merely a symptom of them.
"It may be that young adults remove themselves from important social settings to play video games, or that people who already struggle with relationships are trying to find other ways to spend their time," she said. "My guess is that it's some of both and becomes circular."
Researchers now want to test whether the games also cause harm to romantic relationships.
"The gender imbalance begs the question of whether chasing a new high score beats spending quality time with a girlfriend or wife," said Alex Jensen, one of the co-authors of the study.
What do you all think about this?