Gaming Behavior Among Conscripts: The Role of Lower Psychosocial Well-Being Factors in Explaining Gaming Addiction

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Gaming addiction is usually characterized by a loss of control and mental instability, which may be particularly problematic in the military where task performance often requires optimal physical and mental functioning. No previous studies have thus far investigated levels of gaming addiction among conscripts. The aim of the present study was to assess the levels of gaming addiction among conscripts (at the entry of service), and to investigate if indicators of lower psychosocial well-being (particularly boredom, loneliness, depression, and anxiety) can help explain the variance in gaming addiction among conscripts. Lower psychosocial well-being has previously been related to gaming addiction in the general population, and coping with negative emotions has also been identified as a major motivation for gaming. The sample consisted of 1,017 conscripts (80.3% men) with a mean age of 19.5 years (SD = 1.0). Results showed that 4.8% of the conscripts were addicted to gaming, and the addicted gamers scored significantly higher on boredom, loneliness, depression, and anxiety, compared with nonproblem gamers and nongamers. Results from hierarchical regression analyses showed that weekly time spent gaming explained most of the variance in gaming addiction (18.8%) whereas the indicators of low psychosocial well-being explained an additional 6.7% in Step 2, where depression, loneliness, and lack of external stimulation contributed significantly. Addiction is likely to have negative impact on training, operative ability, and task performance of the soldiers; hence a revision of the present selection criteria to include gaming addiction as an exclusion criterion for drafting may be warranted.

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