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While the incidence of mental illness among young people is increasing, it is also noticeable that young people are spending more and more time in virtual environments, such as in the gaming world. Among the adult world, including the scientific world, there is therefore a concern that the use of computer games, including mobile games, may be one of the contributing factors to the increase in mental illness among young people. Whether mental illness is a consequence of increased gambling or merely a correlate, for which young people gambling could be a problem and which mechanisms are important for the potential connection between gambling and health are some questions that are current and currently unanswered.

In the current project, we intend to a) shed light on the short-term and long-term processes between young people's computer games and mental illness, and b) increase understanding of the central mechanisms that may play a role in these connections. The following research questions are answered:
1. What do the daily processes between young people's computer games and their mental illness look like?
2. What is the interaction between young people's computer games and mental illness in a long-term perspective?
3. To what extent does the type of computer game (interactive or solo game), as well as the motives for playing, such as skill development and creative use, play a role in the development of mental illness over time?
4. To what extent do individual factors, such as neuropsychiatric impairments (eg, ADHD), and social factors, such as the parent-child relationship and parental attitudes toward gaming, play a role in potential associations between computer games and mental illness?

To get answers to these questions, we apply innovative research designs that include daily measurements of young people's use of computer games and their mood (so-called Experience sampling method, ESM), in combination with a longer survey with three follow-ups. ESM is a structured form of diary methodology that captures experiences in real time and changes in these experiences over a shorter period. Data is collected through the Mpath smartphone application. High school year 2 students (at least 500), from various theoretically and practically oriented programs, are invited as potential participants. Students participate in the study in the following ways:
1.) They answer the longer questionnaire on 3 occasions: at the beginning of the autumn semester, at the beginning of the spring semester and at the end of the spring semester.
2.) For 14 days during the fall semester, they will, through Mpath, receive notifications with short questions concerning their computer games, mental health, motives, etc., 5 times a day. The same arrangement will be repeated during the spring semester. A combination of daily measurements with results from longitudinal measurements can provide in-depth insights into the relationship between digital media use and mental health in both the short and long term. Knowledge from this project can be used for the development of preventive and knowledge-raising interventions that young people, parents and professionals, such as student health and psychiatry, can benefit from.

Research Area

  • Psykologi

Research environment / Institution

  • Barn och unga
  • Övrig forskning
  • Institutionen för individ och samhälle

Project leader

Participants University West

Research Partner

  • Lunds universitet

Research funding

  • Svenska spel

Project time

2024 - 2027