Gaming Addiction, Gaming Engagement, and Psychological Health Complaints Among Norwegian Adolescents
Distinguishing high engagement with games from gaming addiction has been a challenge for researchers. We present evidence that an established self-report instrument can be used to distinguish addicted gamers from highly engaged gamers. The study used data from the World Health Organization's survey, Health Behaviour in School-Aged Children. A nationally representative sample of Norwegian eighth graders completed the Game Addiction Scale for Adolescents. Respondents who endorsed all four of the core criteria for addiction (relapse, withdrawal, conflict, and problems) were categorized as addicted gamers. Respondents who endorsed two or three of the core criteria were categorized as problem gamers. Those who endorsed all three peripheral criteria (salience, tolerance, and mood modification), but not more than one of the addiction criteria, were categorized as highly engaged gamers. Controlling for gender and physical exercise, gaming addicts and problem gamers had greater risk of feeling low, feeling irritable or in a bad mood, feeling nervous, feeling tired and exhausted, and feeling afraid. The highly engaged gamers did not have greater risk of psychological health complaints. This suggests that it is possible to distinguish addicted and problem gamers with psychological health complaints from adolescents who are merely highly engaged gamers.