Roblox Lawsuit Alleges Video Game Addiction Contributed to Teen’s ADHD, Mental Health Problems

Video game addiction affects anywhere from three to six million children in the U.S., which lawsuit alleges helped Roblox rake in more than $2 billion last year.

The parents of a teen boy from Minnesota have filed a lawsuit against Apple and the designers of Roblox, indicating that the child has developed an uncontrollable video game addiction caused by years of playing the game, since he was about seven years old.

Josh and Tawney Jameson filed the complaint (PDF) on May 3 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota, on behalf of themselves and their 14-year-old son, identified only by the initials L.J. The lawsuit seeks damages from Roblox Corporation and Apple, Inc. as defendants, claiming that the companies intentionally designing the video game to foster addictions among children.

Roblox is a popular gaming app, which allows individuals to play user-created games of various types. While free to play, the game allows users to buy virtual currency, known as Robux, which can be used to buy additional features.

In the first nine months of 2023, the Roblox lawsuit indicates that users of the platform, many of which are young children, bought $2.39 billion in Robux.

The Jamesons join a growing number of parents nationwide now pursuing video game addiction lawsuits against major developers and publishers, including Microsoft, Epic, Electronic Arts, Ubisoft, Nintendo and others, claiming that they market products that are designed to create addictive properties.

Families claim these video games illegally monitor children’s activity online and use algorithms based off their behavior to keep them playing longer. They then attempt to sell players game improvements or “cosmetic” items for small, seemingly digestible amounts.

Similar Social Media Addiction Lawsuits

The claims against video game developers raise allegations similar to those currently being pursued in a number of social media addiction lawsuits brought against Meta, Google, TikTok and other companies, which claim that those platforms are intentionally designed to manipulate and maximize user time and engagement, as well as the type of content that users see.

The social media lawsuits claim these tactics cause addiction and self-destructive behavior among teens, resulting in anxiety, depression, eating disorders and psychological damage, which has led to attempted or actual suicides, especially among young girls.

Each of the social media platform giants have been accused of ignoring clear evidence about the harmful consequences of their behavior, indicating that they have refused to do anything to prevent the addiction and emotional distress, since it would directly impact the profits generated.

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The Jameson’s lawsuit indicates L.J. has spent about 6,000 hours playing Roblox, and has spent a large sum of money to purchase in-game transactions and Robux, which he usually plays on Apple devices.

The lawsuit claims the game was intentionally designed to create such addictions in children, to the point that parents struggle, and often fail, to control their children’s time playing Roblox and similar video games.

This has caused serious mental health and behavioral problems, according to the complaint. L.J. has been diagnosed with depression, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) and video game addiction. He has had to undergo outpatient counseling, medication and specialized education and tutoring.

“Josh Jameson and Tawney Jameson have lost hope in their ability to control L.J.’s game playing time and worry about L.J.’s mental and physical condition when attempting to take games away from L.J.,” the lawsuit states.

Video Game Addiction Lawsuits

According to this and similar  lawsuits filed in recent months, video game addiction, also known as internet gaming disorder, results in individuals putting video gaming as a priority over other activities, causes loss of social function and cognitive decline. This can result in stress, aggressive behavior, loss of impulse control, depression, anxiety, and other behavioral addictions.

It is estimated that about three to six million children and young adults in the U.S. suffer from video game addiction to the point of being non-functioning members of society, the lawsuits claim.

In March, several plaintiffs filed a motion with the U.S. Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPML), requesting the creation of a video game addiction lawsuit MDL (multidistrict litigation) in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri for coordinated pretrial proceedings.

The lawsuits target virtually every main game developer in the industry as defendants, particularly those who focus on online gaming. The plaintiffs argue that consolidating the cases as part of a MDL would prevent duplicative discovery and contradictory rulings, and provide convenience to the Court, parties and witnesses, according to the motion.

If the JPML agrees to create a video game addiction MDL, the judge overseeing the litigation would likely schedule a series of early “bellwether” trials to help the parties gauge how juries are likely to respond to certain evidence and testimony that will be repeated throughout the litigation. However, if the lawsuits are not resolved during the MDL proceedings, either through a video game addiction settlement agreement or other ruling, the cases may be transferred back to their originating court for trial.

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