Background: Although considerable research suggests that health-risk factors vary as a function of video-game playing among young people, direct evidence of such linkages among adults is lacking.
Purpose: The goal of this study was to distinguish adult video-game players from nonplayers on the basis of personal and environmental factors. It was hypothesized that adults who play video games, compared to nonplayers, would evidence poorer perceptions of their health, greater reliance on Internet-facilitated social support, more extensive media use, and higher BMI. It was further hypothesized that different patterns of linkages between video-game playing and health-risk factors would emerge by gender.
Methods: A cross-sectional, Internet-based survey was conducted in 2006 with a sample of adults from the Seattle-Tacoma area (n=562), examining health risks; media use behaviors and perceptions, including those related to video-game playing; and demographics. Statistical analyses conducted in 2008 to compare video-game players and nonplayers included bivariate descriptive statistics, stepwise discriminant analysis, and ANOVA.
Results: A total of 45.1% of respondents reported playing video games. Female video-game players reported greater depression (M=1.57) and poorer health status (M=3.90) than female nonplayers (depression, M=1.13; health status, M=3.57). Male video-game players reported higher BMI (M=5.31) and more Internet use time (M=2.55) than male nonplayers (BMI, M=5.19; Internet use, M=2.36). The only determinant common to female and male video-game players was greater reliance on the Internet for social support.
Conclusions: A number of determinants distinguished video-game players from nonplayers, and these factors differed substantially between men and women. The data illustrate the need for further research among adults to clarify how to use digital opportunities more effectively to promote health and prevent disease.