Carvalho, C.B., Cabral, J.M., Teixeira, M., Cordeiro, F., Costa, R. & Arroz, A.M. (2023) Belonging without being: relationships between problematic gaming, internet use, and social group attachment in adolescence.Computers in Human Behavior, 149, 107932. DOI:10.1016/j.chb.2023.107932 (IF2022 9,9; Q1 Psychology, Experimental)
Gaming and Internet use are positively associated with benefits for interpersonal relationships in adolescence, with these behaviors when excessive having been negatively linked with positive aspects of interpersonal connections, such as secure attachment. Using a representative sample of 7918 Portuguese adolescents, with ages ranging from 13 to 19 (Mage = 15.5, 53.3% females), and three self-report measures of problematic gaming, problematic Internet use, and social group attachment (secure, anxious, avoidant), this cross-sectional study aimed to examine the associations between problematic gaming, as well as problematic Internet use, and secure and insecure (anxious and avoidant) social group attachment styles, in the groups with and without these problems. In the groups without problematic gaming and without problematic Internet use, excessive gaming and involvement with the Internet were negatively associated with secure social group attachment and positively associated with anxious social group attachment; on the other hand, in the groups with severe levels of these problems, problematic gaming and Internet use were positively associated with secure social group attachment and negatively associated with anxious social group attachment. These results go against what had been initially hypothesized and suggest that in the case of adolescents with severe levels of these problems, they may serve as an effective compensatory mechanism for coping with the negative effects of insecure attachment styles, which in turn likely contributes to the maintenance of problematic gaming and Internet use.