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Background and aims

Multiplayer Online Battle Arena (MOBA) games have become the most popular type of video games played worldwide, superseding the playing of Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Games and First-Person Shooter games. However, empirical studies focusing on the use and abuse of MOBA games are still very limited, particularly regarding impulsivity, which is an indicator of addictive states but has not yet been explored in MOBA games. In this context, the objective of the present study is to explore the associations between impulsivity and symptoms of addictive use of MOBA games in a sample of highly involved League of Legends (LoL, currently the most popular MOBA game) gamers.

Methods

Thirty-six LoL gamers were recruited and completed both experimental (Single Key Impulsivity Paradigm) and self-reported impulsivity assessments (s-UPPS-P Impulsive Behavior Scale, Barratt Impulsiveness Scale), in addition to an assessment of problematic video game use (Problematic Online Gaming Questionnaire).

Results

Results showed links between impulsivity-related constructs and signs of excessive MOBA game involvement. Findings indicated that impaired ability to postpone rewards in an experimental laboratory task was strongly related to problematic patterns of MOBA game involvement. Although less consistent, several associations were also found between self-reported impulsivity traits and signs of excessive MOBA game involvement.

Conclusions

Despite these results are preliminary and based upon a small (self-selected) sample, the present study highlights potential psychological factors related to the addictive use of MOBA games.

Open access
Journal of Behavioral Addictions
Authors:
Antonius J. van Rooij PhD
,
Daria J. Kuss
,
Mark D. Griffiths
,
Gillian W. Shorter
,
Tim M. Schoenmakers
, and
Dike van de Mheen

Abstract

Aims

The current study explored the nature of problematic (addictive) video gaming (PVG) and the association with game type, psychosocial health, and substance use.

Methods

Data were collected using a paper and pencil survey in the classroom setting. Three samples were aggregated to achieve a total sample of 8478 unique adolescents. Scales included measures of game use, game type, the Video game Addiction Test (VAT), depressive mood, negative self-esteem, loneliness, social anxiety, education performance, and use of cannabis, alcohol and nicotine (smoking).

Results

Findings confirmed problematic gaming is most common amongst adolescent gamers who play multiplayer online games. Boys (60%) were more likely to play online games than girls (14%) and problematic gamers were more likely to be boys (5%) than girls (1%). High problematic gamers showed higher scores on depressive mood, loneliness, social anxiety, negative self-esteem, and self-reported lower school performance. Nicotine, alcohol, and cannabis using boys were almost twice more likely to report high PVG than non-users.

Conclusions

It appears that online gaming in general is not necessarily associated with problems. However, problematic gamers do seem to play online games more often, and a small subgroup of gamers — specifically boys — showed lower psychosocial functioning and lower grades. Moreover, associations with alcohol, nicotine, and cannabis use are found. It would appear that problematic gaming is an undesirable problem for a small subgroup of gamers. The findings encourage further exploration of the role of psychoactive substance use in problematic gaming.

Open access
Journal of Behavioral Addictions
Authors:
Chih-Hung Ko
,
Orsolya Király
,
Zsolt Demetrovics
,
Mark D. Griffiths
,
Takahiro A. Kato
,
Masaru Tateno
, and
Ju-Yu Yen

Abstract

Background

The eleventh revision of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11) defines the three key diagnostic criteria for gaming disorder (GD). These are loss of control over gaming, gaming as a priority over daily activities, and impaired functioning due to gaming. While this definition has implications for the prevention and treatment of GD, there is significant heterogeneity in the symptoms and etiology of GD among individuals, which results in different treatment needs. Cognitive control, emotional regulation, and reward sensitivity are three critical dimensions in the etiology model for GD. Aspects such as gender, comorbidity, motivation for gaming, stage or severity of GD, and risk factors all contribute to the heterogeneity of etiology among individuals with the disorder.

Method

On the basis of clinical symptoms and comorbidity characteristics among approximately 400 patients with gaming disorder, the present paper proposes a clinical typology of patients with GD based on the authors' clinical experience in treating individuals with GD.

Results

The findings indicated three common types of patients with GD: (i) impulsive male patients with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), (ii) dysphoria patients with dysfunctional coping skills, and (iii) isolated patients with social anxiety. The paper also discusses the presentation and treatment priority for these patients.

Conclusion

Personalized treatments for patients with GD should be developed to fit their individual needs. Future studies should examine the heterogeneity of GD and confirm these types, as well as obtain evidence-based information that can help in the development of personalized treatment. Treatment resources should be developed, and professionals should be trained to provide integrated individualized treatment.

Open access
Journal of Behavioral Addictions
Authors:
Vasileios Stavropoulos
,
Daniel Zarate
,
Maria Prokofieva
,
Noirin Van de Berg
,
Leila Karimi
,
Angela Gorman Alesi
,
Michaella Richards
,
Soula Bennet
, and
Mark D. Griffiths

Abstract

Background and aims

Gaming disorder [GD] risk has been associated with the way gamers bond with their visual representation (i.e., avatar) in the game-world. More specifically, a gamer's relationship with their avatar has been shown to provide reliable mental health information about the user in their offline life, such as their current and prospective GD risk, if appropriately decoded.

Methods

To contribute to the paucity of knowledge in this area, 565 gamers (M age = 29.3 years; SD =10.6) were assessed twice, six months apart, using the User-Avatar-Bond Scale (UABS) and the Gaming Disorder Test. A series of tuned and untuned artificial intelligence [AI] classifiers analysed concurrently and prospectively their responses.

Results

Findings showed that AI models learned to accurately and automatically identify GD risk cases, based on gamers' reported UABS score, age, and length of gaming involvement, both concurrently and longitudinally (i.e., six months later). Random forests outperformed all other AIs, while avatar immersion was shown to be the strongest training predictor.

Conclusion

Study outcomes demonstrated that the user-avatar bond can be translated into accurate, concurrent and future GD risk predictions using trained AI classifiers. Assessment, prevention, and practice implications are discussed in the light of these findings.

Open access
Journal of Behavioral Addictions
Authors:
Dominic Sagoe
,
Mark. D. Griffiths
,
Eilin Kristine Erevik
,
Turid Høyland
,
Tony Leino
,
Ida Alette Lande
,
Mie Engen Sigurdsson
, and
Ståle Pallesen

Abstract

Background and aims

The effect of internet-based psychological treatment for gambling problems has not been previously investigated by meta-analysis. The present study is therefore a quantitative synthesis of studies on the effects of internet-based treatment for gambling problems. Given that effects may vary according to the presence of therapist support and control conditions, it was presumed that subgroup analyses would elucidate such effects.

Methods

A systematic search with no time constraints was conducted in PsycINFO, MEDLINE, Web of Science, and the Cochrane Library. Two authors independently extracted data using a predefined form, including study quality assessment based on the Cochrane risk of bias tool. Effect sizes were calculated using random-effects models. Heterogeneity was indexed by Cochran’s Q and the I 2 statistics. Publication bias was investigated using trim and fill.

Results

Thirteen studies were included in the analysis. Random effects models at post-treatment showed significant effects for general gambling symptoms (g = 0.73; 95% CI = 0.43–1.03), gambling frequency (g = 0.29; 95% CI = 0.14–0.45), and amount of money lost gambling (g = 0.19; 95% CI = 0.11–0.27). The corresponding findings at follow-up were g = 1.20 (95% CI = 0.79–1.61), g = 0.36 (95% CI = 0.12–0.60), and g = 0.20 (95% CI = 0.12–0.29) respectively. Subgroup analyses showed that for general gambling symptoms, studies with therapist support yield larger effects than studies without, both post-treatment and at follow-up. Additionally, on general gambling symptoms and gambling frequency, there were lower effect sizes for studies with a control group compared to studies without a control group at follow-up. Studies with higher baseline severity of gambling problems were associated with larger effect sizes at both posttreatment and follow-up than studies with more lenient inclusion criteria concerning gambling problems.

Discussion and conclusions

Internet-based treatment has the potential to reach a large proportion of persons with gambling problems. Results of the meta-analysis suggest that such treatments hold promise as an effective approach. Future studies are encouraged to examine moderators of treatment outcomes, validate treatment effects cross-culturally, and investigate the effects of novel developments such as ecological momentary interventions.

Open access

Abstract

Background and aims

The literature has proposed two types of problematic smartphone/internet use: generalized problematic use and specific problematic use. However, longitudinal findings on the associations between the two types of problematic use and psychological distress are lacking among East-Asians. The present study examined temporal associations between both generalized and specific problematic use of the smartphone/internet, and psychological distress.

Methods

Hong Kong University students (N = 308; 100 males; mean age = 23.75 years; SD ± 5.15) were recruited with follow-ups at three, six, and nine months after baseline assessment. All participants completed the Smartphone Application-Based Addiction Scale (for generalized problematic smartphone/internet use), the Bergen Social Media Addiction Scale (for specific problematic smartphone/internet use), and the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (for psychological distress) in each assessment. Latent growth modeling (LGM) was constructed to understand temporal associations between generalized/specific problematic use and psychological distress.

Results

The LGM suggested that the intercept of generalized problematic use was significantly associated with the intercept of psychological distress (standardized coefficient [β] = 0.32; P < 0.01). The growth of generalized problematic use was significantly associated with the growth of psychological distress (β = 0.51; P < 0.01). Moreover, the intercept of specific problematic use was significantly associated with the intercept of psychological distress (β = 0.28; P < 0.01) and the growth of psychological distress (β = 0.37; P < 0.01).

Conclusion

The initial level of problematic use of smartphone/internet increased the psychological distress among university students. Helping young adults address problematic use of the smartphone/internet may prevent psychological distress.

Open access

Abstract

Background and aims

Due to the rapid spread of the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), policies based on the nature of “spatial distancing” have been implemented and have resulted in school suspensions and online learning among schoolchildren. In order to examine the impact of such policies on schoolchildren, the aims of the present study were to (i) assess changes in the level of engagement in three internet-related activities (smartphone use, social media use, and gaming) before and during the COVID-19 outbreak, including prolonged and problematic engagement in these activities; (ii) investigate the differences of psychological distress before and after COVID-19 outbreak; and (iii) to use structural equation modeling to investigate the mediating roles of problematic internet-related behaviors in the causal relationships of psychological distress and time spent on internet-related activities.

Methods

Self-report measures were used to assess internet-related activities and psychological distress. Time spent on internet-related activities, problematic use of internet-related activities, and psychological distress were collected from primary school students (N = 535; 265 boys; M age = 10.32 years [SD = 0.84]). The data were first collected before the COVID-19 outbreak (i.e., early November 2019) and then collected again during the school suspension due to COVID-19 outbreak (i.e., end of March 2020) for comparisons of changes.

Results

Schoolchildren spent significantly more time on the smartphone (increased 1.02 h daily; P < 0.001) and social media (increased 0.73 h daily; P < 0.001) but not gaming (increased 0.14 h daily; P = 0.07) during the school suspension compared to the baseline. Schoolchildren who increased by 15 or 30 min daily on internet-related activities showed an increased level of psychological distress. The association between problematic use of social media and psychological distress was stronger during the school suspension (β = 0.584) than at the baseline (β = 0.451; P < 0.001).

Conclusion

Increased problematic use of internet-related activities among schoolchildren was associated with greater psychological distress. Parents should therefore monitor internet-related activities and psychological distress of their children to support their mental health.

Open access
Journal of Behavioral Addictions
Authors:
Máté Kapitány-Fövény
,
Róbert Urbán
,
Gábor Varga
,
Marc N. Potenza
,
Mark D. Griffiths
,
Anna Szekely
,
Borbála Paksi
,
Bernadette Kun
,
Judit Farkas
,
Gyöngyi Kökönyei
, and
Zsolt Demetrovics

Abstract

Background and aims

Due to its important role in both healthy groups and those with physical, mental and behavioral disorders, impulsivity is a widely researched construct. Among various self-report questionnaires of impulsivity, the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale is arguably the most frequently used measure. Despite its international use, inconsistencies in the suggested factor structure of its latest version, the BIS-11, have been observed repeatedly in different samples. The goal of the present study was therefore to test the factor structure of the BIS-11 in several samples.

Methods

Exploratory and confirmatory factor analyses were conducted on two representative samples of Hungarian adults (N = 2,457; N = 2,040) and a college sample (N = 765).

Results

Analyses did not confirm the original model of the measure in any of the samples. Based on explorative factor analyses, an alternative three-factor model (cognitive impulsivity; behavioral impulsivity; and impatience/restlessness) of the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale is suggested. The pattern of the associations between the three factors and aggression, exercise, smoking, alcohol use, and psychological distress supports the construct validity of this new model.

Discussion

The new measurement model of impulsivity was confirmed in two independent samples. However, it requires further cross-cultural validation to clarify the content of self-reported impulsivity in both clinical and nonclinical samples.

Open access
Journal of Behavioral Addictions
Authors:
Kun-Chia Chang
,
Yun-Husan Chang
,
Cheng-Fang Yen
,
Jung-Sheng Chen
,
Po-Jen Chen
,
Chung-Ying Lin
,
Mark D. Griffiths
,
Marc N. Potenza
, and
Amir H. Pakpour

Abstract

Background and aims

Individuals with schizophrenia may often experience poor sleep, self-stigma, impaired social functions, and problematic smartphone use. However, the temporal relationships between these factors have not been investigated. The present study used a longitudinal design to examine potential mediating roles of poor sleep and self-stigma in associations between problematic smartphone use and impaired social functions among individuals with schizophrenia.

Methods

From April 2019 to August 2021, 193 individuals with schizophrenia (mean [SD] age = 41.34 [9.01] years; 88 [45.6%] males) were recruited and asked to complete three psychometric scales: the Smartphone Application-Based Addiction Scale to assess problematic smartphone use; the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index to assess sleep quality; and the Self-Stigma Scale-Short Scale to assess self-stigma. Social functioning was evaluated by a psychiatrist using the Personal and Social Performance Scale. All measures were assessed five times (one baseline and four follow-ups) at three-month intervals between assessments.

Results

General estimating equations found that problematic smartphone use (coefficient = −0.096, SE = 0.021; P < 0.001), sleep quality (coefficient = −0.134, SE = 0.038; P < 0.001), and self-stigma (coefficient = −0.612, SE = 0.192; P = 0.001) were significant statistical predictors for social functioning. Moreover, sleep quality and self-stigma mediated associations between problematic smartphone use and social functioning.

Conclusion

Problematic smartphone use appears to impact social functioning longitudinally among individuals with schizophrenia via poor sleep and self-stigma concerns. Interventions aimed at reducing problematic smartphone use, improving sleep, and addressing self-stigma may help improve social functioning among individuals with schizophrenia.

Open access
Journal of Behavioral Addictions
Authors:
Andrea Czakó
,
Orsolya Király
,
Patrik Koncz
,
Shu M. Yu
,
Harshdeep S. Mangat
,
Judith A Glynn
,
Pedro Romero
,
Mark D Griffiths
,
Hans-Jürgen Rumpf
, and
Zsolt Demetrovics

Abstract

The present paper provides an overview of the possible risks, harms, and challenges that might arise with the development of the esports field and pose a threat to professional esports players, spectators, bettors and videogame players, including underage players. These include physical and mental health issues, gambling and gambling-like elements associated with videogames and esports, the challenges arising from pursuing a career in esports, the unique difficulties women face, and a need for supporting professional esports players. It briefly discusses possible responses and suggestions regarding how to address and mitigate these negative consequences. It emphasizes the need for cooperation and collaboration between various stakeholders: researchers, policymakers, regulators, the gaming industry, esports organizations, healthcare and treatment providers, educational institutes and the need for further evidence-based information.

Open access