Little video-gaming in adolescents can be protective, but too much is associated with increased substance use Academic Article uri icon

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abstract

  • Background

    Studies have demonstrated inconsistent results regarding the association between video gaming time and substance use in teenagers. Understating intricacies of this association can help with substance use reduction in teenagers.

    Objectives

    This study aimed to untangle this complex relationship by theorizing and examining a U-shaped association.

    Methods

    We analyzed two large samples (n1 = 7313 [52.5% female] and n2 = 8079 [51.6% female]) of 8th and 10th graders in the United States. Substance use was operationalized as the sum of self-reported number of lifetime use instances of 14 unprescribed substances. Video game use time (hours per week) was self-reported on a 1 (none) to 9 (40+) scale. Common covariates/risk factors were included.

    Results

    Consistently across datasets, partial-correlation between squared video gaming time and substance use (r = .10, p < .001 in 2014 and r = .08, p < .001 in 2015) supported the hypothesized u-shaped association. Analysis of covariance revealed that teenagers playing video games for 1-5 h a week report on significantly fewer instances of substance use compared with non-gamers (p < .001-.007). Post hoc analyses revealed that those who play at least 30 h per week report on significantly (p < .001) more instances of substance use (3.92 in 2014 and 3.38 in 2015) compared with teenagers playing video games for 1-5 h a week (2.17 in 2015 and 1.96 in 2015).

    Conclusions

    Video gaming time and substance use follow a u-shaped association; light video gaming can be protective in terms of substance use, while too much video gaming is associated with increased substance use.

publication date

  • February 23, 2019