Different Typologies of Gamers Are Associated with Mental Health: Are Students DOOMed?

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022 Nov 16;19(22):15058. doi: 10.3390/ijerph192215058.


(1) Background: The inclusion of Internet Gaming Disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual for Mental Disorders (DSM-5) led to a rapid development of assessment instruments based on the suggested diagnosis. However, previous studies suggest that some of the symptoms in the diagnosis reflect engagement in gaming rather than a disorder or addiction. The aim of the present cross-sectional study was to investigate mental health associations with different typologies of gamers. (2) Methods: Data stemmed from a large national survey of students (SHoT2022) that was conducted between February and April 2022 (N = 59,544). Participants were categorized into non-gamers, recreational gamers, engaged gamers, problematic gamers, and addicted gamers. Logistic regression models adjusted for age were analyzed with and without gender-stratification for mental distress and life satisfaction as dependent variables across gaming categories. (3) Results: The proportion reporting case-level mental distress was lower for recreational gamers compared to non-gamers, indicating fewer mental health problems for recreational gamers. However, after stratifying the analysis by gender, female recreational gamers had higher levels of mental distress compared to female non-gamers, reflecting Simpson's paradox. (4) Conclusions: Future studies investigating mental health and gaming should include a gender perspective.

Keywords: Internet Gaming Disorder; engaged gamers; life satisfaction; mental distress; young adults.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Behavior, Addictive* / psychology
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Mental Health
  • Students
  • Video Games* / psychology

Grants and funding

The SHoT2022 study has received funding from the Norwegian Ministry of Education and Research and the Norwegian Ministry of Health and Care Services.