Understanding Problematic Video Gaming Among Adolescents Through the Lens of Self-Determination Theory

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Yung, Bonny
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Online gaming is a multi-billion-dollar industry that is on the rise and fast becoming one of the most popular forms of leisure among children and adolescents in the modern world. With faster internet speed, greater accessibility to electronic devices, and increasing options to gaming platforms, the barriers between adolescents and the gaming world are shrinking. Although video game playing is harmless for the majority of adolescent players, recent research has indicated a relationship between excessive game play and difficulties with everyday functioning for a small percentage of players. To understand this relationship, three research questions were explored: 1) For whom is gaming a high-risk activity? 2) Why do adolescents play despite harmful consequences? 3) What can be done? This paper is written through the lens of SDT, psychological needs, as well as interpersonal and intrapersonal factors that contributed to adolescent risk of developing problematic video gaming. In brief, main findings reported a positive relationship between psychological needs frustration, amotivation, and extrinsic motivation with problematic video gaming. When psychological needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness were not only less satisfied, but actively obstructed in daily life, research found that adolescents turned to video games to cope with negative life experiences, as well as to compensate for the needs they felt they lacked in real life. CBT-based interventions have been used as a first-line of treatment in addition to multidimensional family therapy (MDFT), which has shown promise. Psychoeducation resources for prevention, along with suggestions for future considerations are also discussed.
problematic video gaming, IGD, gaming disorder, self-determination theory, motivation, adolescents