Video gaming is a popular activity among young people. Time spent with gaming was found to be only moderately associated with gaming disorder. However, patterns of binge gaming (playing more than 5 h consecutively) were rarely considered in research on gaming. This study explores how binge gaming frequency is related with gaming disorder and mental health.
The sample came from the Cohort study on substance use risk factors (C-SURF) and comprised 5,358 young men aged 28.26 years (SD = 1.27). ANCOVA was conducted to estimate the association between binge gaming frequency (gaming at least 5 h consecutively) and gaming disorder (measured with the Game Addiction Scale) as well as indicators of mental health.
A total of 33.3% of the sample engaged in binge gaming at least once in the previous year, and 6.1% at least weekly. Frequency of binge gaming was associated with gaming disorder score in a linear dose-response relationship (linear trend = 2.30 [2.14, 2.46]) even if adjusted for time spent gaming (linear trend = 1.24 [1.03, 1.45). More frequent binge gaming was associated with lower life satisfaction and sleep quality, and with more major depression and social anxiety disorder symptoms.
Binge gaming patterns, especially daily or almost daily binge gaming, are important to consider with regard to gaming disorder and mental health. Asking about binge gaming may be a promising screening question for gaming related problems. Encouraging regular breaks from gaming may be a valuable prevention strategy to reduce negative outcomes of gaming.