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Cyberpsychol Behav Soc Netw. 2017 Jun;20(6):397-401. doi: 10.1089/cyber.2017.0011.

Age of Initiation and Internet Gaming Disorder: The Role of Self-Esteem.

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1 Pacific Graduate School of Psychology, Palo Alto University , Palo Alto, California.
2 Federation University Australia , Victoria, Australia .
3 University of Athens , Athens, Greece .


The link between early initiation and problematic use has been observed for substance use disorders; however, this link has not been as clearly established for Internet gaming disorder (IGD). Available studies indicate that individuals who initiate Internet use at younger ages exhibit an increased risk for general Internet addiction. Prior research also suggests unique cognitive processes in online gaming, such that an individual's overall sense of self-worth can become contingent upon self-esteem derived from the gaming environment. The current research examines the mediational role of self-esteem variables in the relationship between age of initiation and IGD symptomatology. Data were analyzed from 1,044 adult participants (mean age = 30.90; standard deviation: 9.28; 35.0% female) recruited from Amazon Mechanical Turk who reported playing massively multiplayer online role-playing games. Age of gaming initiation is directly linked to IGD, as earlier age predicted overall IGD symptom severity (b = -0.10, 95% confidence interval [CI: -0.17, -0.03]), controlling for self-esteem factors. In addition, self-esteem factors emerged as mediators of the effect, where global self-esteem served as a protective factor (b = -0.05, 95% CI: [-0.07, -0.02]) and high gaming-contingent self-worth (GCSW; b = -0.10, 95% CI: [-0.15, -0.04]) was associated with more negative outcomes. Earlier age of gaming initiation is associated with IGD symptomatology. Although risks of screen time are often referred to in terms of physical consequences, the present study provides support regarding the inclusion of self-esteem factors in the link between early use and IGD.


age of initiation; behavioral addiction; internet gaming disorder; online gaming; self-esteem

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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