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Authors: Anise M. S. Wu, Juliet Honglei Chen, Kwok-Kit Tong, Shu Yu and Joseph T. F. Lau

Background and aims

Internet gaming disorder (IGD) has been mainly studied among adolescents, and no research to date has examined its prevalence in general Chinese adult populations. This study estimated the prevalence of probable IGD in community-dwelling adults in Macao, China. Associations between IGD and psychological distress (i.e., depression and anxiety) as well as IGD and character strength (i.e., psychological resilience and purpose in life) were also tested.

Methods

A random, representative sample of 1,000 Chinese residents (44% males; mean age = 40.0) was surveyed using a telephone poll design from October to November 2016.

Results

The estimated prevalence of probable IGD was 2.0% of the overall sample and 4.3% among the recent gamers (n = 473), with no statistically significant sex and age effects observed (p > .05). The two most prevalent IGD symptoms were mood modification and continued engagement, despite negative consequences. Probable IGD respondents were more vulnerable to psychological distress (25.0% and 45.0% for moderate or above levels of depression and anxiety, respectively) than their non-IGD counterparts. They also reported a lower level of psychological resilience than non-IGD respondents. No significant buffering effect of the two character strength variables on the distress–IGD relationship was found.

Discussion and conclusions

These results provide empirical evidence that IGD is a mental health threat not only to adolescents but also to adults. IGD was significantly associated with psychological distress, which should be addressed in conjunction with IGD symptoms in interventions. Inclusion of gamers of both sexes and different age groups in future prevention programs is also recommended.

Open access

Abstract

Background and aims

Gambling disorder (GD) is a mental disorder with a relatively higher prevalence in university students compared to adolescents and adults. Its reciprocity with mental being indicators, such as psychological flourishing, would be expected, but prior to this study had not yet been empirically examined. In addition, the predictive value of purpose in life (PIL) on university students' GD and psychological flourishing also remained unknown. This 1-year longitudinal study was the first to test the potential bidirectional relationships among PIL, self-reported GD symptoms, and psychological flourishing.

Methods

In this study, a total of 283 university students (39.6% females; age = 18–27 years,M = 20.47,SD = 1.15) completed an anonymous questionnaire at both baseline and a year later in a follow-up study.

Results

The results of our cross-lagged analysis did not show the hypothesized reciprocity between GD symptoms and psychological flourishing (P > 0.05). However, PIL significantly predicted fewer GD symptoms (β = −0.23,P < 0.001) and higher levels of psychological flourishing (β = 0.30,P < 0.001) in the follow-up study. Moreover, psychological flourishing predicted PIL a year later.

Conclusion

The findings demonstrate the potential efficacy of purpose/meaning oriented interventions in gambling prevention and in well-being promotion programs.

Open access