Time spent playing video games during periods of isolation has no effect on loneliness or mental health

Sophie Hodgetts*, Joe Butler, Glenn Patrick Williams

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)
14 Downloads (Pure)


Video games are a ubiquitous form of entertainment that also have the potential to fulfil the socialisation needs of players. In recent years, policy makers and healthcare providers have voiced growing concerns regarding the potential for video gaming to negatively impact mental health and foster social isolation. However, empirical data regarding the potential relationship between time spent gaming, loneliness, and mental health outcomes is lacking. Therefore, the present study aimed to examine this potential relationship using three nationwide COVID-19 lockdowns as models of increased risk of loneliness and poor mental health, across three individual studies. Time spent gaming had no direct relationship with either mental health or loneliness measures taken during lockdown, and this relationship was not moderated by loneliness. While lockdown alone did not impact mental health, loneliness was consistently associated with poor mental health outcomes during lockdown. Our results add to the existing body of literature on the relationship between video gaming and mental health and emphasise the need for targeted public mental health interventions to improve public mental health during periods of isolation. Data and analysis code associated with this project is accessible at: https://osf.io/d5byr/?view_only=6b1b0cd0be9b4e34b6e0a07881d2ef50.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-22
Number of pages22
JournalBehaviour and Information Technology
Early online date25 Oct 2023
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 25 Oct 2023

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