Video game addiction, engagement and symptoms of stress, depression and anxiety: The mediating role of coping.

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Loton, D. ; Borkoles, Erika ; Lubman, D. ; Polman, Remco C.J. (2016)

A number of studies have reported a co-occurrence between video game addiction and poorer mental health, but few have contextualised this relationship by identifying mediating variables. Further, there remains uncertainty in how to differentiate high engagement from what may be termed addiction in the context of video gaming. This study examined the mediating role of coping between one measure of video game addiction and engagement, and mental health. An international sample of 552 adult participants (M age 24.9 years, 52.3% Australian) completed an online survey including the Computer Addiction-Engagement Scale (CAES), Depression, Anxiety Stress Scale (DASS-21) and Approach/Avoidance Coping Questionnaire (BACQ). Multiple mediation analysis showed that coping explained a significant portion of the relationship between video game addiction and symptoms of depression, anxiety and stress. However, even after accounting for coping, a direct relationship remained. Video game engagement, on the other hand, indicated full mediation with no direct connection to declined mental health, except in the case of anxiety. Less use of approach coping strategies and particularly more use of resignation and withdrawal coping strategies were related to poorer mental health. Gaming for distraction was unrelated to mental health. This study identified maladaptive coping as a partial explanation of the relationship between video game addiction and poorer mental health. Also, the findings provide validity for making a distinction between video gaming engagement and addiction. Highly engaged gamers with maladaptive coping styles may be more vulnerable to developing video game addiction.
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