Family dysfunction is a significant risk factor for adolescent problematic gaming, yet few studies have investigated the bidirectional relations between changes in family dysfunction and adolescent problematic gaming and potential mediating mechanisms. This study thus examined the bidirectional relations between family dysfunction and adolescent problematic gaming and the mediating role of self-concept clarity within this relation.
Participants included 4,731 Chinese early adolescents (44.9% girls; M age = 10.91 years, SD = 0.72) who were surveyed at four time points 6 months apart.
Random intercept cross-lagged panel modeling found (a) family dysfunction directly predicts increased problematic gaming, (b) adolescent problematic gaming directly predicts increased experience of family dysfunction, (c) family dysfunction indirectly predicts problematic gaming via self-concept clarity, and (d) adolescent problematic gaming indirectly predicts family dysfunction via self-concept clarity.
Discussion and conclusions
The present study suggests that adolescents may be trapped in a vicious cycle between family dysfunction and problematic gaming either directly or indirectly through impairing their self-concept clarity. Findings indicate fostering youth self-concept clarity is essential to break the vicious circle between dysfunctional experiences in the family and problematic gaming among adolescents.