(AMOUNT OF USE) Reframing video gaming and internet use addiction: empirical cross-national comparison of heavy use over time and addiction scales among young users (2016)

Addiction   Volume 111, Issue 3, pages 513–522, March 2016

Stéphanie Baggio1,*, Marc Dupuis2, Joseph Studer3, Stanislas Spilka4, Jean-Bernard Daeppen2, Olivier Simon5, André Berchtold1,6 and Gerhard Gmel3,7,8,9

Article first published online: 18 NOV 2015

DOI: 10.1111/add.13192


  • Addiction;
  • heavy use over time;
  • internet use;
  • measurement;
  • population-based sample;
  • video gaming


Background and aims

Evidence-based and reliable measures of addictive disorders are needed in general population-based assessments. One study suggested that heavy use over time (UOT) should be used instead of self-reported addiction scales (AS). This study compared UOT and AS regarding video gaming and internet use empirically, using associations with comorbid factors.


Cross-sectional data from the 2011 French Survey on Health and Consumption on Call-up and Preparation for Defence-Day (ESCAPAD), cross-sectional data from the 2012 Swiss [email protected] study and two waves of longitudinal data (2010–13) of the Swiss Longitudinal Cohort Study on Substance Use Risk Factors (C-SURF).


Three representative samples from the general population of French and Swiss adolescents and young Swiss men, aged approximately 17, 14 and 20 years, respectively.


ESCAPAD: n =22 945 (47.4% men); [email protected]: n =3049 (50% men); C-SURF: n =4813 (baseline + follow-up, 100% men).


We assessed video gaming/internet UOT ESCAPAD and [email protected]: number of hours spent online per week, C-SURF: latent score of time spent gaming/using internet] and AS (ESCAPAD: Problematic Internet Use Questionnaire, [email protected]: Internet Addiction Test, C-SURF: Gaming AS). Comorbidities were assessed with health outcomes (ESCAPAD: physical health evaluation with a single item, suicidal thoughts, and appointment with a psychiatrist; [email protected]: WHO-5 and somatic health problems; C-SURF: Short Form 12 (SF-12 Health Survey) and Major Depression Inventory (MDI).


UOT and AS were correlated moderately (ESCAPAD: r = 0.40, [email protected]: r = 0.53 and C-SURF: r  = 0.51). Associations of AS with comorbidity factors were higher than those of UOT in cross-sectional (AS: .005 ≤ |b| ≤ 2.500, UOT: 0.001 ≤ |b| ≤ 1.000) and longitudinal analyses (AS: 0.093 ≤ |b| ≤ 1.079, UOT: 0.020 ≤ |b| ≤ 0.329). The results were similar across gender in ESCAPAD and [email protected] (men: AS: 0.006 ≤ |b| ≤ 0.211, UOT: 0.001 ≤ |b| ≤ 0.061; women: AS: 0.004 ≤ |b| ≤ 0.155, UOT: 0.001 ≤ |b| ≤ 0.094).


The measurement of heavy use over time captures part of addictive video gaming/internet use without overlapping to a large extent with the results of measuring by self-reported addiction scales (AS). Measuring addictive video gaming/internet use via self-reported addiction scales relates more strongly to comorbidity factors than heavy use over time.