Is video gaming, or video game addiction, associated with depression, academic achievement, heavy episodic drinking, or conduct problems?

J Behav Addict. 2014 Mar;3(1):27-32. doi: 10.1556/JBA.3.2014.002. Epub 2014 Feb 3.


Background and aims: While the relationships between video game use and negative consequences are debated, the relationships between video game addiction and negative consequences are fairly well established. However, previous studies suffer from methodological weaknesses that may have caused biased results. There is need for further investigation that benefits from the use of methods that avoid omitted variable bias.

Methods: Two wave panel data was used from two surveys of 1,928 Norwegian adolescents aged 13 to 17 years. The surveys included measures of video game use, video game addiction, depression, heavy episodic drinking, academic achievement, and conduct problems. The data was analyzed using first-differencing, a regression method that is unbiased by time invariant individual factors.

Results: Video game addiction was related to depression, lower academic achievement, and conduct problems, but time spent on video games was not related to any of the studied negative outcomes.

Discussion: The findings were in line with a growing number of studies that have failed to find relationships between time spent on video games and negative outcomes. The current study is also consistent with previous studies in that video game addiction was related to other negative outcomes, but it made the added contribution that the relationships are unbiased by time invariant individual effects. However, future research should aim at establishing the temporal order of the supposed causal effects.

Conclusions: Spending time playing video games does not involve negative consequences, but adolescents who experience problems related to video games are likely to also experience problems in other facets of life.

Keywords: addiction; adolescent; consequences; longitudinal; outcomes; video game.