Effects of Being Bullied as an Adolescent and Internet Gaming Disorder
A Possible Research Proposal and its Hypothetical Results
The proposed correlational study aims to discover a positive correlation between being bullied as an adolescent and developing internet gaming addiction (IGA). The use to the internet continues to grow, especially amongst younger people, with it the prevalence of IGA will also likely increase (Kuss & Griffiths, 2012, p. 283). All participants will be asked to take the seven question Gaming Addiction Scale (Lemmens, Valkenburg, and Peter, 2011) and a modified version of the Stressful Life Events Screening Questionnaire (SLESQ) (Goodman, Corcoran, Turner, Yuan, & Green, 1998). The study will use SPSS and a one-tail independent t-test to determine if any significant correlation exists between being bullied and IGA. The group which has been bullied is expected to be more positively correlated to the group with online gaming addiction. Given the small number of studies on this topic, a significant result would spark interest in further research. As the hypothesis is those who have been bullied as an adolescent have a higher propensity of developing IGA, this study is limited to only the specific type of trauma. Although the SLESQ, will look for other trauma to rule out possible confounding variables, a correlation between trauma in general and IGA is expected to be observed. Other limitations include the inability to indicated specific cause and effect, as we are not controlling the IV due to the study being correlational.
Effects of Being Bullied as an Adolescent on Internet Gaming Disorder
The topic of Internet Gaming Addiction (IGA) is significant because “in 2012, more than one billion individuals played computer games” (Kuss, 2013, p. 125) and by all indications that number has continued to grow. As more and more individuals spend time playing internet computer games the number of those addicted is also bound to grow (Kuss & Griffiths, 2012, p. 283). Those who suffer from IGA, in certain cases, have had their lives debilitated (Kuss, 2013, p. 126). IGA has been found to be comorbid with mood disorders, depressive disorders, bipolar disorders, substance-induced mood disorder, anxiety disorders, social phobia, generalized anxiety disorder, anxiety disorder, attention deficit disorder, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, and substance use disorder (Freeman, 2008, p. 45).
The interest of this study is to discover if there is a correlation between being bullied as an adolescent (age 7-12) and an increased likelihood of developing IGA as a teenager or adult (age 13-27). If perhaps there is a correlation between being bullied as an adolescent and the likelihood of becoming addicted to internet gaming as a teenager or adult, preventative measures can be taken stop the bullying in the earlier years of life. Perhaps more appropriate therapies can be administered to those affected.
Background information on this topic includes various studies conducted by researchers in psychology, psychiatry, neurology, amongst others. The research into this topic has continued to grow as has the prevalence of internet gaming. Many addicted to online gaming experience similar symptoms to those associated with substance-related addictions (Kuss & Griffiths, 2012), and further research by Li et al. (2018) into the neurobiology of IGA has strengthened the “evidence that IGA is a brain disorder that shares similar neuropathology to that of other addictions.” DSM-5 refers to IGA as “persistent and recurrent use of the Internet to engage in games, often with other players, leading to clinically significant impairment or distress as indicated by five (or more) [criteria] in a 12-month period” (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). As mentioned in the DSM-5 the criteria for diagnosis is a preoccupation with gaming, withdrawal symptoms, tolerance, lack of control, loss of other interests, use despite negative consequences, deception, mood modification, and losing a relationship, job, and/or other similarly important aspects of life (American Psychiatric Association, 2013).
Studies have shown that the motivations for addicted gamers to play are similar to the motivations of other dysfunctional addicts. Kuss points out that “it appears that it is particularly motivations related to dysfunctional coping, socialization and personal satisfaction that serve as risk factors for developing Internet gaming addiction (2013). Furthermore, “internet gaming addiction was found to be associated with symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, depression, social phobia” (as cited in Kuss, 2013).
As IGA relates to childhood trauma, Oskenbay et al. (2016) point out that childhood trauma can be a significant factor in addiction in later life. Other behaviors apparent in adolescents that lead to internet gaming dependence and could potentially be the cause of being bullied include: anxiety, antisocial coping strategies, emotional alienation, and an inability to communicate well (Oskenbay et al., 2016). As “childhood trauma is considered the main factor in a predisposition to addiction” (Oskenbay et al., 2016) and “addiction to computer games and the internet, is the presence of un-addressed trauma” (Oskenbay et al., 2016), it would seem relevant to look for specific types of trauma and how they correlate IGA in later life. Li, Zou, Wang, and Yang (2016) point out the relation between stressful life event and internet addiction and that those who compulsively play games as a coping mechanism have a higher propensity for addiction. On the other hand, Hyun et al. (2015) point out a negative correlation between internet addiction and social support from family, friends, and colleagues.
The research question is adolescent trauma, namely being bullied, correlated to internet gaming addiction in later life. As research into IGA has grown, so has research into its causes. We can learn from those countries whose populations suffer at a higher rate from IGA, such as China, Korea, and Japan (Li et al., 2016;Hyun et al., 2015;Oskenbay et al., 2016). Any correlations would perhaps spark new research into specific cause and effects. These findings would also reduce the stigmatization and alienation of those who suffer from IGA.
The hypothesis is those who have been bullied as an adolescent have a higher propensity of developing IGA. Based on the review of literature it can be deduced that a positive correlation between being bullied as an adolescent and the development of IGA exists. Determining correlations between specific events (bullying) during adolescence and IGA in later life would allow for better diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of IGA. A negative or zero correlation would be equally important, as it would run contradictory to much of the recently developed understandings, not only in IGA, but other forms of addiction.
The research design will include participants recruited from online gaming platforms, forums, and groups: such as Twitch, Youtube, Facebook, amongst others. Those recruited online who are minors will require parental consent for participation. Additional participants, those over the age of 18, would be recruited outside college campuses, malls, and movie theaters. Minors under the age of 18 would be recruited outside high schools and junior high schools, malls, and movie theaters, with parent consent. This study will be conducted using a questionnaire, its data will be processed electronically, and their significance determined using statistical software (IBM’s SPSS), thus the larger the sample population, the more relevant the results will become. As the subject matter is internet gaming, we can assume that most of our participants will be willing to share their experiences. Consent from guardians should be presumed obtainable as many parents are aware of this newly emergent problem of internet gaming addiction. Questionnaires will be disseminated electronically to those interested in participating in the research study.
As we are looking for a positive correlation between bullying and IGA, questions relating to experiences during adolescent, namely being bullied, will be correlated with the number of hours spent playing internet games. More detailed questions about adolescent trauma will be asked to look for further unintended correlations. In order to determine if the participant suffers from IGA, detailed questions regarding how they play internet games, and how their playing affects their lives will also be asked. Correlations will be looked for amongst the variables from adolescence (being bullied and other trauma) to the participant current state (time spent playing online games and current psychological state).
As this is a correlational study and a nonexperimental method it will not have an IV or DV.
The findings will be significant if they fall into significant levels based on statistical calculations using SPSS. If positive or negative correlations are found at significant levels, the importance of these finding could be tremendous in aiding future research into prevention, diagnosis, and therapy.
The study will include a random sample of 500 participants, selected from two universities and two high schools in the Los Angeles area. The universities and high schools to use for selecting our participants will also be randomly selected by placing all available schools into a database and utilizing a random selection tool, such as Random.org. The randomly selected participants will be aged 16-24 based on the available age demographic of high school and university students. Students aged below 16 will be excluded from the study to limit exposure to more vulnerable populations. Participants over the age of 24 will also be excluded to limit the effects of maturation and protect internal validity. Informed consent will be obtained from all participants letting them know the purpose of the study to be the association of psychological factors and how they are associated with internet gaming. Participants under the age of 18 without a parent or guardian consent will be excluded from the study. The gender and ethnicity of the population should reflect that of California, being 50% female, 50% male, 39% Hispanic, 37% White (non-Hispanic), 15% Asian, 7% Black or African American, and 2% other Races ("U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts: California", 2017).
The materials needed for this study include a questionnaire taking 15-20 minutes to complete. To determine demographics the questionnaire will ask for age, gender, ethnicity, median household income, and possible college major. Further measures for this study include the following: Participants will be asked if they play online games. The participants who answer “yes” will be asked the total duration of game play per week and the average duration of each game play session. All participants will be asked to take the seven question Gaming Addiction Scale (Lemmens, Valkenburg, and Peter, 2011). The Gaming Addiction Scale will measure salience, tolerance, mood modification, withdrawal, relapse, conflict, and problems using a five-point Likert scale as related to gaming addiction (Lemmens et al., 2011). All participants will also be given a modified version of the Stressful Life Events Screening Questionnaire (SLESQ) (Goodman, Corcoran, Turner, Yuan, & Green, 1998). The SLESQ is a 13 question self-report measure that assesses lifetime exposure to traumatic events. The test asks “yes” or “no” questions regarding the occurrence of the event, the age at which it occurred, frequency, related death or hospitalization, injuries received, length of the event, and other related factors to the event. An additional questions asking whether the participant felt bullied, picked on, physically, or emotionally by a parent, sibling, peer (eg. friend, schoolmate), stranger, or anyone else, will be added.
Design and Procedure
As this is a correlational study and a nonexperimental method it will not have an IV or DV. This study aims to find a correlation between being bullied as a child and an increased likelihood of having internet gaming addiction. The study will also gather data regarding other traumatic life events to determine if other traumatic life events could be playing a role as extraneous variables. This additional gathering of data will also serve a secondary function as perhaps correlations between other traumatic life events and internet gaming addiction could be found. Data will be collected electronically as participants will be emailed instructions for access to a dedicated website where the demographic, Gaming Addiction Scale, Stressful Life Events Screening Questionnaires will be administered. The results will be stored in a database for later analysis. Extraneous factors that could affect the experiment include the presence of other traumatic life events that could produce the same expected result as being bullied. This effect will be mitigated by using the SLESQ which can determine the presence of other such traumatic events.
In order to analyze our findings, data gathered from the demographic segment of our questionnaire will be used to ensure that our population makeup resembles that of the general population in California. If inconsistencies are found, participants will be excluded by random selection to match the demographics of California as stated by the US Census Bureau. Data collected from The Gaming Addiction Scale (Lemmens et al., 2011) will be used to isolate those participants which show an addiction to internet gaming. The polythetic format, used in DSM-5 for diagnosing pathological gambling, required a minimum of the half of the criteria (salience, tolerance, mood modification, withdrawal, relapse, conflict, and problems) to diagnose addiction (American Psychiatric Association. Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders DSM-5, 2013). Therefore, a score of four or higher on the Gaming Addiction Scale would determine an addict (Lemmens et al., 2011). Using our revised Stressful Life Events Screening Questionnaire (SLESQ) (Goodman, Corcoran, Turner, Yuan, & Green, 1998), we will isolate those who have only been bullied from those who have had other types of traumatic life experiences. The participants who have been bullied and those who have not will then be compared using SPSS and a one-tail independent t-test to determine if any significant correlation exists to IGA. The Pearson correlation coefficient will be used to determine the strength of the relationships between the pairs of variables (Li, Zou, Wang, & Yang, 2016). We expect to find that being bullied is positively correlated to having internet gaming addiction.
The following statistical results are to be expected: From our 500 participants, we expect 23 (5%) addicted to internet gaming and 476 (95%) non-addicts. From our 23 addicts, 77% are expected to be male. The group which has been bullied is expected to be more positively correlated to the group with online gaming addiction, such that F(500)=1.648 P= <.05. Further analysis of data seems appropriate to find if a correlation between other traumatic life events and internet gaming addiction exist.
With the hypothesis being, those who have been bullied as an adolescent having a higher propensity of developing IGA now supported, the connection between any traumatic event and the desire to regress into a fantasy world seems palpable. This study examined a problem which through general observation seems to be more prevalent with each passing year. Internet gaming addiction has become ubiquitous with severity in countries such as Korea, China, and Japan (Li et al., 2016;Hyun et al., 2015;Oskenbay et al., 2016). While looking at the specific type of trauma, bullying, other participants that also reported different kinds of trauma showed a propensity for developing IGA. Research done by Li, Zou, Wang, and Yang (2016) and Oskenbay et al. (2016) also showed that stressful life events are correlated to IGA with a twice as many make addicted as females. Although past research has been done on IGA, none has explicitly looked at being bullied as a cause for developing the addiction.
The results of the study showed that 5% of our participants were addicted to internet gaming and 95% were non-addicts. From The addicts, 77% are were male. The group which has been bullied is more positively correlated to the group with online gaming addiction, such that F(500)=1.648 P= <.05. Further analysis of data will likely find a correlation between other traumatic life events and IGA. Other implications of the findings include that trauma leads to coping mechanisms, one being IGA, but could perhaps be correlated to different types of withdrawal from society. As this study is correlational, direct cause and effect relationships can not be inferred with confidence. It would be preferable to conduct a factorial research design and control an independent variable to draw direct cause and effect relationship between being bullied and IGA. Since we can not administer trauma on our participants to replicate the effects of being bullied, it is difficult to conduct research using a factorial design. Therefore, we can only draw cautious conclusions using our observed positive correlation, and the findings of others who have done similar research (Li et al., 2016;Hyun et al., 2015;Oskenbay et al., 2016). As the traumatic event we are looking to correlate occurred in the past, effects of participant memory, unrecalled trauma, upbringing, coping mechanisms, administered therapy, medication, and genetics all can play a significant role in confounding our experiment.
This research would extend or demonstrate significant improvement over previous research by focusing on a specific type of trauma that can cause IGA. Bullying is a type of avoidable trauma, one that can be prevented by the assailants and treated for those receiving the trauma. This research would be beneficial to psychology and society as IGA is already an epidemic (Markey, and Ferguson, 2017) and will continue to grow. Understanding IGA and its causes would allow for better treatment and prevention.
As mentioned previously, ideas for future research could include, using a factorial research design to draw more concrete conclusions, linking other specific types of trauma to IGA, determining why more males are addicted, understanding why IGA is more prevalent in some Asian countries and understanding how to treat those suffering from IGA.
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U.S. Census Bureau QuickFacts: California. (2017, July 1). Retrieved September 16, 2018, from https://www.census.gov/quickfacts/fact/table/ca/PST045217