Study reveals link between impulsivity, aggression, and internet gaming addiction

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In a recent study published in Scientific Reports, a group of researchers investigated the association between impulsivity and aggression as risk factors for Internet Gaming Disorder (IGD) among a sample of 350 university students in Saudi Arabia.

Study: Impulsivity and aggression as risk factors for internet gaming disorder among university students. Image Credit: sezer66/Shutterstock.comStudy: Impulsivity and aggression as risk factors for internet gaming disorder among university students. Image Credit: sezer66/Shutterstock.com

Background 

The Internet's widespread use has led to concerns about addiction, particularly IGD, now recognized alongside traditional addictions.

With global internet usage reaching 98% in some areas, the focus on IGD, especially among the youth, has intensified.

Research links IGD to adverse outcomes like impulsivity, aggression, and mental health issues, mirroring substance abuse patterns.

Further research is needed to understand better the complex dynamics between IGD and its psychological impacts, enabling the development of more effective prevention and intervention strategies.

About the study 

In the present cross-sectional, exploratory study conducted at Najran University, Saudi Arabia, a simple random sampling technique was employed to select participants from the student body.

Aiming for a statistically significant sample size, determined by G*Power 3.1 analysis to be 338, invitations were extended to 382 students via social media, resulting in a final sample of 350 students after accounting for non-responses and exclusions.

Eligibility criteria required participants to be over 18, enrolled in a 4-year degree program during the 2022–2023 academic year, and fluent in Arabic or English.

Data were collected through an online survey distributed between January and March 2023. The survey included a sociodemographic questionnaire, the Internet Gaming Disorder Scale–Short-Form (IGDS9-SF), the Barratt Impulsiveness Scale (BIS-15), and the Buss–Perry Aggression Questionnaire-Short Form (BPAQ-SF), each chosen for their reliability and validity in measuring their respective constructs.

Before participation, all individuals were informed about the study's purpose, procedures, and rights, ensuring adherence to ethical standards, including voluntary participation and confidentiality.

Ethical approval was granted by the Research Ethics Committee at the University, aligning with the Declaration of Helsinki.

Statistical analysis was performed using Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS), focusing on the reliability of the translated assessment tools, descriptive statistics, and inferential tests to explore the relationships between IGD, impulsivity, and aggression.

The study's approach ensured a rigorous examination of the potential impact of these psychological traits on IGD, contributing valuable insights to the field.

Study results 

In the present study, a sample of 350 individuals was analyzed to understand the prevalence and factors associated with IGD. The average IGD severity score among participants was 27.23, with scores ranging from 12 to 40 out of a possible 45 points.

Utilizing a cut-off point of 32, as recommended by previous research, approximately 21.71% of the sample was identified as having disordered gaming habits.

The investigation into demographic variables such as gender, academic specialty, and age revealed no significant differences in IGD scores.

However, a notable variation in mean IGD scores emerged when examining the weekly hours dedicated to online gaming, with those gaming for 7–19 hours or more than 20 hours weekly showing significantly higher IGD scores than their counterparts.

Further analysis using a Chi-square test highlighted a significant correlation between weekly gaming duration and IGD classification, especially among individuals gaming for over 20 hours a week.

This finding underscores the importance of gaming duration as a critical factor in IGD risk assessment. The study also delved into the association between impulsivity, aggression, and IGD.

The average scores for impulsivity and aggression across the sample were 35.60 and 28.85, respectively. A subsequent comparison between the IGD and non-IGD groups revealed higher levels of impulsivity and aggression among those with IGD.

A Pearson’s correlation test further confirmed a moderately strong positive relationship between IGD and impulsivity and a strong positive relationship between IGD and aggression. This suggests that higher levels of these traits are associated with increased IGD severity.

A step-wise hierarchical regression analysis, controlling for weekly gaming duration, demonstrated that impulsivity and aggression significantly predict IGD scores, accounting for 34.6% of its variance.

This analysis, excluding demographic variables due to their non-significant impact, highlights the critical role of impulsivity and aggression in understanding IGD among university students.

Conclusions 

To summarize, this study explored the association of impulsivity and aggression with IGD among Saudi university students, finding a 22% prevalence rate of IGD, higher than previous studies but consistent with similar research in Saudi Arabia.

The study highlighted the significant role of weekly gaming duration in IGD severity, with extensive gaming linked to higher IGD scores.

Impulsivity and aggression were confirmed as key predictors of IGD, underscoring the disorder's resemblance to impulse control disorders. 

Journal reference:
Vijay Kumar Malesu

Written by

Vijay Kumar Malesu

Vijay holds a Ph.D. in Biotechnology and possesses a deep passion for microbiology. His academic journey has allowed him to delve deeper into understanding the intricate world of microorganisms. Through his research and studies, he has gained expertise in various aspects of microbiology, which includes microbial genetics, microbial physiology, and microbial ecology. Vijay has six years of scientific research experience at renowned research institutes such as the Indian Council for Agricultural Research and KIIT University. He has worked on diverse projects in microbiology, biopolymers, and drug delivery. His contributions to these areas have provided him with a comprehensive understanding of the subject matter and the ability to tackle complex research challenges.    

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