The (co-)occurrence of problematic video gaming, substance use, and psychosocial problems in adolescents

Daria J. Kuss, Gillian W Shorter, Mark D Griffiths, Tim M. Schoenmakers, Dike van de Mheen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

214 Citations (Scopus)


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
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)157-165
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Behavioral Addictions
Issue number3
Early online date26 Aug 2014
Publication statusPublished online - 26 Aug 2014


  • problematic video gaming
  • internet gaming disorder
  • online games
  • adolescents
  • alcohol
  • smoking
  • cannabis
  • loneliness
  • depression
  • self-esteem
  • social anxiety
  • addiction


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