Online gaming motive profiles in late adolescence and the related longitudinal development of stress, depression, and problematic internet use

Shan mei Chang, San-Ju Lin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

Many studies have shown that some game motives help to identify the risk for the development of problematic Internet use, especially advancement, escapism and socializing. Previous researchers have investigated multiple risky motives in each study but treated them as individual variables with less concern about their interplay. However, in many studies, the results showed that all gaming motives were correlated, implying the possibility that gamers might endorse multiple motives simultaneously. This study thus adopted a person-centered approach that was capable of distinguishing people with apparent combinations of gaming motives. The first aim of this study was to examine the co-occurrence of three different gaming motives, using latent profile analysis. The second aim of this study was to examine whether there were differences among gamer profiles in their characteristics, problematic Internet use, depression, and other well-being indicators across five time points. Panel data were collected from the same college student sample every six months for 2 years, from 2012 to 2014. At time point 1, a total of 387 freshmen (female = 109; male = 278) were recruited in Taiwan. Four reliable clusters of gamers were identified: high-engagement, medium-engagement, low-engagement, and healthy-engagement. The validated analysis results showed that the high-engagement gamers were risky and had higher depression and problematic Internet use scores than the other gamer clusters from time 1 to time 5. Academic performances had no significant effect on the 4 gamer clusters from time 1 to time 5. When the high-engagement cluster was compared to the healthy-engagement cluster, the major difference was seen in the level of escapism motives and the consequent risk of developing negative psychological symptoms. However, when the healthy-engagement cluster was compared to the low-engagement cluster, there were no significant differences in their level of escapism motive or psychological outcomes in depression and problematic Internet use (PIU) scores. Taken together, these findings imply that the endorsement of the escapism motive might be a risky inner factor for depression, PIU, and other well-being indicators in college gamers. Based on our findings, the person-centered study may provide further insights to help gamers with functional impairment. In addition, intervention programs can be designed to bring awareness to gamers’ own escapism motives and to persuade them to face the pressures and problems in real life.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-137
Number of pages15
JournalComputers and Education
Volume135
DOIs
StatePublished - Jul 2019

Keywords

  • Advancement
  • College students
  • Depression
  • Escapism
  • Gaming motives
  • Internet gaming disorder
  • Late adolescent
  • Problematic internet use
  • Socializing
  • Stress

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