Motivation and Emotion

, Volume 37, Issue 1, pp 154–164 | Cite as

Friends, fun, frustration and fantasy: Child motivations for video game play

  • Christopher J. FergusonEmail author
  • Cheryl K. Olson
Original Paper


Although a considerable amount of attention has examined potential positive and negative consequences of video game play in children, relatively little research has examined children’s motivations for using games. The current study hopes to address this gap in the literature by examining children’s motivations for video game play in a large sample of youth (n = 1254). Results indicated that video game use was common, and often a social activity. Social play was mainly predicted by motivations related to socialization, fun/challenge and current stress level. Preference for violent games was more common in males and predicted by fun/challenge motivations and beliefs such games could be cathartic for stress. Children with clinically elevated levels of depressive and ADHD symptoms did not play more games, or more violent games, but were more inclined to endorse catharsis motivations for video game use. Results from this study provide understanding of what motivates children to use games, and how the motivations of children with symptoms of psychosocial problems (as identified via subscales of the Pediatric Symptom Checklist) may differ from others.


Self determination Adolescence Computer games Video games Mental health 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Behavioral SciencesTexas A&M International UniversityLaredoUSA
  2. 2.Harvard UniversityCambridgeUSA

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