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Depressive symptoms associations with online and in person networks in an online gaming community: a pilot study

Tyler Prochnow (Baylor University, Waco, Texas, USA)
Megan S. Patterson (Texas A&M University, College Station, Texas, USA)
Logan Hartnell (Adler University, Chicago, Illinois, USA)
M. Renée Umstattd Meyer (Baylor University, Waco, Texas, USA)

Mental Health Review Journal

ISSN: 1361-9322

Article publication date: 3 March 2020

Issue publication date: 20 March 2020

Abstract

Purpose

Increases in video game use have led to mental health concerns, citing greater risk for depressive symptoms (DS) and reduced “in-real-life” (IRL) social involvement. However, recent studies have uncovered potential social benefits for online gaming. Many games provide avenues to extend real life relationships and make new online friendships. The purpose of this pilot study is to use social network analysis to determine associations between connections and DS in a gaming community.

Design/methodology/approach

As a pilot study, members of an online gaming site were asked to report demographic characteristics, DS, IRL social support, online social support and IRL people and members of the online community with whom they spoke to about important life matters. Multi-level modeling was used to parse variance described by demographic characteristics, IRL measures and online measures. Linear network autocorrelation modeling (LNAM) was used to determine relationships between network connections and DS.

Findings

Members (n = 37; µ = 24.76 years old, SD = 6.55; 100% male; 89.2% white) on average felt DS’ “not at all” to “several days” over the past two weeks. Multi-level modeling including online network measures explained 50% of variance (R2 = 0.50, F (9,27) = 2.98, p = 0.01); online connections were associated with DS (ß = 0.46). LNAM indicated DS were associated with IRL support (ß = −2.66), IRL connections (ß = 1.81), online support (ß = 2.40) and network effects (ß = 0.06), which indicates that a gamer’s DS were similar to those of their online connections.

Originality/value

Members with more DS may be seeking help via online channels. This may be important for future research to consider alternative forms of help-seeking behavior.

Keywords

Citation

Prochnow, T., Patterson, M.S., Hartnell, L. and Umstattd Meyer, M.R. (2020), "Depressive symptoms associations with online and in person networks in an online gaming community: a pilot study", Mental Health Review Journal, Vol. 25 No. 1, pp. 21-33. https://doi.org/10.1108/MHRJ-11-2019-0044

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

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