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Game-related behaviors among children and adolescents after school closure during the COVID-19 pandemic: A cross-sectional study

Increased exposure to digital gaming content among youth in recent years has raised serious health concerns. Social restrictions such as  school closures, imposed worldwide because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, may increase exposure to gaming and lead to addictive gaming behavior in young people. In this study,     we investigated gaming behaviors among Japanese students during COVID-19             school closures.

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Students completed questionnaires regarding their living conditions, game-related behaviors, diagnosis of Internet addiction, psychological difficulties, and the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. We compared differences between the responses of potentially at risk for gaming disorder (potentially at risk for gaming disorder; defined in this paper with reference to the ICD-11 MMS criteria for gaming disorder [PGD]) students who met the criteria for a diagnosis of gaming disorder in ICD-11 MMS and those of control students. Logistic regression analysis was performed to predict the extent of factors contributing to potential gaming disorder.

Four thousand and forty-eight participants completed the survey. Compared with control students (93%), potentially at risk for gaming disorder (defined in this paper with reference to the ICD-11 MMS criteria for gaming disorder, PGD) students (7%) reported playing games for longer times, spending more money on in-game purchases, were of younger age at the start of game playing, showed a tendency toward Internet dependence, practised school avoidance or absenteeism, and demonstrated the need for psychological support. Moreover, participants in the PGD group reported more anxiety about COVID-19 than control participants, as well as an increase in game-playing time and amount of money spent on games during the COVID-19 pandemic.

These results indicate that young people classified as having a gaming disorder not only exhibit characteristic game-related behaviors but may be psychologically and socially vulnerable and need special support, especially during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

For the details of this research, see
Psychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences Reports