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Authors: Margot Peeters, Ina Koning, Jeroen Lemmens and Regina van den Eijnden

Background and aims

For most youngsters, gaming is a fun and innocent leisure activity. However, some adolescents are prone to develop problematic gaming behavior. It is therefore important to have a comprehensive understanding of psychosocial and game-related characteristics that differentiate highly engaged gamers from problematic gamers. To that end, this study evaluated the stability and consistency of Internet gaming criteria (as suggested by the DSM-5) and psychosocial characteristics in a two-wave longitudinal study including 1928 young adolescents (mean age = 13.3 years, SD = 0.91, 57% boys).


A confirmatory factor analysis revealed good stability of the Internet gaming disorder (IGD) construct over time. Latent class analyses revealed three classes for boys (recreational, engaged, and problematic) and two classes for girls (recreational and engaged).


Significant differences between classes emerged for problem criteria (conflict and problems in social life), gaming duration, impulsivity, social competence, and attention/hyperactivity. The absence of a problematic gaming class for girls suggests that girls are less likely to develop problematic gaming behavior.


The IGD criteria as proposed by the DSM-5 are a helpful tool to identify problematic gamers, although the results of this study suggest that using a strict cut-off point might result in false positives, particularly for boys. Problem criteria appeared to be the most sensitive and specific in identifying the problematic gamer, whereas escapism criteria were the least specific and sensitive. Careful consideration of the current proposed criteria to identify problematic gaming behavior could benefit the research and clinical field.

Open access
Authors: Ina M. Koning, Margot Peeters, Catrin Finkenauer and Regina J. J. M. van den Eijnden


This two-wave prospective study investigated the bidirectional relation between Internet-specific parenting (reactive restrictions, Internet-specific rules, and frequency and quality of communication about Internet) and adolescents’ symptoms of social media disorder (SMD) and Internet gaming disorder (IGD). In addition, we investigated whether this relation was different for boys and girls.


A sample of 352 adolescents (48.9% boys, Mage = 13.9, SDage = 0.74, range: 11–15) completed questionnaires at two waves. Zero-inflated cross-lagged analyses in Mplus were performed to predict the level of IGD and SMD symptoms by Internet-specific parenting practices and vice versa, while controlling for age, level of education, and outcome at T1.


More frequent parent–adolescent communication about Internet predicted more IGD (β = 0.26, p = .03) and SMD symptoms among boys, and more restrictive rules predicted fewer SMD symptoms among girls (β = −0.23, p = .08). More IGD symptoms predicted more reactive rules (β = 0.20, p = .08) among boys and girls and a higher frequency (β = 0.16, p = .02) and lower quality of communication (β = −0.24, p < .001) among boys and girls, respectively.


This study demonstrates bidirectional relations between Internet-specific parenting and IGD symptoms, but not SMD symptoms. Displaying IGD symptoms seems to elicit ineffective parental responses, which may further exacerbate problematic involvement in gaming. With respect to problematic social use media among girls, this study suggests that parents should set strict rules regarding Internet use, prior to problematic use of social media. Longitudinal studies on the role of parenting in development of Internet-related disorders would be promising in enhancing our understanding of how parents can effectively prevent problematic involvement in online behaviors among their children.

Open access