Reframing video gaming and Internet use addiction: Empirical cross-national comparison of heavy use over time and addiction scales among young users (2015)

2015 Oct 9. doi: 10.1111/add.13192. 

Baggio S1, Dupuis M2, Studer J3, Spilka S4, Daeppen JB2, Simon O5, Berchtold A1,6, Gmel G3,7,8,9.



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 empirically compared UOT and AS regarding video gaming and Internet use, using associations with comorbid factors.


Cross-sectional data from the 2011 French ESCAPAD survey; cross-sectional data from the 2012 Swiss [email protected] study; and two waves of longitudinal data (2010-2013) 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, respectively aged around 17, 14, and 20.


ESCAPAD: n = 22,945 (47.4% men); [email protected]: n = 3,049 (50% men); C-SURF: n = 4,813 (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: SF12 and MDI).


UOT and AS were moderately correlated (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: 0.006 ≤ |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| ≤ .155, UOT: 0.001 ≤ |b| ≤ 0.094).


The measurement of heavy use over time (UOT) 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 AS relates more strongly to comorbidity factors than heavy UOT.

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