Addictive behaviors often begin in adolescence and can involve substances or rewarding behaviors. One prominent substance-based addictive behavior among adolescents is vaping, while internet gaming represents a prominent behavioral addiction among this age group. Despite the fact that vaping and gaming initiation often occurs when youth are in school, research is limited with regard to school counselors’ experience addressing these two potentially addictive behaviors. Thus, we analyzed data from 221 high school counselors and found 81% reported working with a student with a gaming issue in the previous year. Similarly, 81.4% reported working with a student with a vaping-related issue in the previous year. The majority of participants (70.1%) reported that gaming issues have increased during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although prevalent, roughly half of school counselors (50.7%) categorized internet gaming as a mild concern compared to other issues. Alternatively, 42.5% of participants said vaping was a moderate concern, on par with other issues, and 14.5% said vaping was a major concern, more than other issues. Among the school counselors in our study, 24.4% reported feeling moderately or very competent addressing student issues related to gaming and 33.5% reported feeling moderately or very competent addressing student issues related to vaping. Implications for school counselors are discussed.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
American School Counseling Association. (2019). The ASCA National Model: A framework for school counseling programs (4th ed.). Author.
American Society of Addiction Medicine. (2019). Definition of addiction. https://www.asam.org/docs/default-source/quality-science/asam's-2019-definition-of-addiction-(1).pdf?sfvrsn=b8b64fc2_2
Armendariz-Castillo, I., Guerrero, S., Vera-Guapi, A., Cevallos-Vilaturna, T., Garcia-Cardenas, J. M., Guevara-Ramirez, P. …, Paz-y-Mino, C. (2019). Genotoxic and carcinogenic potential of compounds associated with electronic cigarettes: A systematic review. BioMed Research International, 1386710. https://doi.org/10.1155/2019/1386710
Baker, K. A., Campbell, N. J., Noonan, D., Thompson, J. A., & Derowin, A. (2022). Vaping prevention in a middle school population using CATCH My Breath. Journal of Pediatric Health Care, 36, 90–98. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.pedhc.2021.07.013
Benyo, S. E., Bruinsma, T. J., Drda, E., Brady-Olympia, J., Hicks, S. D., Boehmer, S., & Olympia, R. P. (2021). Risk factors and medical symptoms associated with electronic vapor product use among adolescents and young adults. Clinical Pediatrics, 60, 279–289. https://doi.org/10.1177/00099228211009681
Bonnaire, C., & Phan, O. (2017). Relationships between parental attitudes, family functioning, and internet gaming disorder in adolescents attending school. Psychiatry Research, 255, 104–110. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.spychres.2017.05.030
Brunborg, G. S., Mentzoni, R. A., & Froyland, L. R. (2014). Is video gaming, or video game addiction, associated with depression, academic achievement, heavy episodic drinking or conduct problems? Journal of Behavioral Addictions, 3, 27–32. https://doi.org/10.1556/JBA.3.2014.002
Burnell, K., Kwiatek, S. M., & Hoyle, R. H. (2021). Are exclusive e-cigarette users unique? Comparing predictors of exclusive e-cigarette use with traditional tobacco use and dual use among adolescents. Substance Use & Misuse, 56, 905–910. https://doi.org/10.1080/10826084.2021.1899236
Busch, P. A., & McCarthy, S. (2021). Antecedents and consequences of problematic smartphone use: A systematic literature review of an emerging research area. Computers in Human Behavior, 114, 106414. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2020.106414
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020). Outbreak of lung injury associated with the use of e-cigarette, or vaping, products. https://www.cdc.gov/tobacco/basic_information/e-cigarettes/severe-lung-disease.html
Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs. (2016). 2016 CACREP standards. www.cacrep.org
Demetrovics, Z., Urban, R., Nagygyorgy, K., Farkas, J., Zilahy, D., Mervo, B. …, Harmath, E. (2011). Why do you play? The development of the motives for online gaming questionnaire (MOGQ). Behavior Research Methods, 43, 814–825. https://doi.org/10.3758/s13428-011-0091-y
Dunbar, E. T., Nelson, M. D., & Tarabochia, D. S. (2019). Substance use disorders: What school counselors should know. Journal of School Counseling, 17, 1–29.
Entertainment Software Association. (2021). 2021 Essential facts about the video game industry. https://www.theesa.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/2021-Essential-Facts-About-the-Video-Game-Industry-1.pdf
Epstein, M., Bailey, J. A., Kosterman, R., Rhew, I. C., Furlong, M., Oesterle, S., & McCabe, S. E. (2021). E-cigarette use is associated with subsequent cigarette use among young adult non-smokers, over and above a range of antecedent risk factors: A propensity score analysis. Addiction, 116, 1224–1232. https://doi.org/10.1111/add.15317
Evans-Whipp, T., Beyers, J. M., LLOyd, S., Lafazia, A. N., Toumbourou, J. W., Arthur, M. W., & Catalano, R. F. (2004). A review of school drug policies and their impact on youth substance use. Health Promotion International, 19, 227–234. https://doi.org/10.1093/heapro/dah210
Farsalinos, K. E., & Polosa, R. (2014). Safety evaluation and risk assessment of electronic cigarettes as tobacco cigarette substitutes: A systematic review. Therapeutic Advances in Drug Safety, 5, 67–86. https://doi.org/10.1177/2042098614524430
Farsalinos, K., Barbouni, A., & Niaura, R. (2021). Changes from 2017 to 2018 in e-cigarette use and in ever marijuana use with e-cigarettes among U.S. adolescents: Analysis of the National Youth Tobacco Survey. Addiction, 116, 139–149. https://doi.org/10.1111/add.15162
Ferreira, F. D., Bambini, B. B., Tonsig, G. K., Fonseca, L., Picon, F. A., Pan, P. M., Salum, G. A., Jackowski, A., Miguel, E. C., Rohde, L. A., Bressan, R. A., & Gadelha, A. (2021). Predictors of gaming disorder in children and adolescents: A school-based study. Brazilian Journal of Psychiatry, 43, 298–292. https://doi.org/10.1590/1516-4446-2020-0964
Gakh, M., Coughenour, C., Assoumou, B. O., & Vanderstelt, M. (2020). The relationship between school absenteeism and substance use: An integrative literature review. Substance Use & Misuse, 55, 491–502. https://doi.org/10.1080/10826084.2019.1686021
Gao, Y., Wang, J., & Dong, Lo. (2022). The prevalence and possible risk factors of internet gaming disorder among adolescents and young adults: Systematic reviews and meta-analyses. Journal of Psychiatric Research, 154, 35–43. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpsychires.2022.06.049
Giordano, A. L., Malacara, A., & Agarwal, S. (2019). A process addictions course for counselor training programs. Teaching and Supervision in Counseling, 1, 47–59. https://doi.org/10.7290/tcs010105
Giordano, A. L., Schmit, M. K., & McCall, J. (2022). Exploring adolescent social media and internet gaming addiction: The role of emotion regulation. Journal of Addictions & Offender Counseling, 44, 69–80. https://doi.org/10.1002/jaoc.12116
Gnambs, T., Stasielowicz, L., Wolter, I., & Appel, M. (2020). Do computer games jeopardize educational outcomes? A prospective study on gaming times and academic achievement. Psychology of Popular Media, 9, 69–82. https://doi.org/10.1037/ppm0000204
Gorman, T. E., Gentile, D. A., & Green, C. S. (2018). Problem gaming: A short primer. American Journal of Play, 10, 309–327.
Griffiths, M. D., & Meredith, A. (2009). Video-game addiction and its treatment. Journal of Contemporary Psychotherapy, 39, 247–253. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10879-009-9118-4
Hagedorn, W. B., & Young, T. (2011). Identifying and intervening with students exhibiting signs of gaming addiction and other addictive behaviors: Implications for school counselors. Professional School Counseling, 14, 250–260. https://doi.org/10.1177/2156759X1101400401
Hawi, N. S., Samaha, M., & Griffiths, M. D. (2018). Internet gaming disorder in Lebanon: Relationships with age, sleep habits, and academic achievement. Journal of Behavioral Addictions, 7, 70–78. https://doi.org/10.1556/2006.7.2018.16
Jeong, H., Yim, H. W., Lee, S. Y., Lee, H. K., Potenza, M. N., & Lee, H. (2021). Factors associated with severity, incidence or persistence of internet gaming disorder in children and adolescents: A 2-year longitudinal study. Addiction, 116, 1828–1838. https://doi.org/10.1111/add.15366
Johnston, L. D., Miech, R. A., O’Malley, P. M., Bachman, J. G., Schulenberg, J. E., & Patrick, M. E. (2022). Monitoring the Future national survey results on drug use 1975–2021: Overview, key findings on adolescent drug use. Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan.
Kelder, S. H., Mantey, D. S., Dusen, D. V., Case, K., Haas, A., & Springer, A. E. (2020). A middle school program to prevent e-cigarette use: A pilot study of “CATCH My Breath.” Public Health Reports, 135, 220–229. https://doi.org/10.1177/0033354919900887
Kim, J. Y., Lee, J. S., & Oh, S. (2017). A path model of school violence perpetration: Introducing online game addiction as a new risk factor. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 32, 3205–3225. https://doi.org/10.1177/0886260515597435
King, D., & Delfabbro, P. (2018). Internet Gaming Disorder: Theory, assessment, treatment, and prevention. Elsevier.
Kreslake, J. M., Simard, B. J., O’Connor, K. M., Patel, M., Vallone, D. M., & Hair, E. C. (2021). E-cigarette use among youths and young adults during the COVID-19 pandemic: United States 2020. American Journal of Public Health, 111, 1132–1140. https://doi.org/10.2105/AJPH.2021.306210
Kuss, D. J., Pontes, H. M., & Griffiths, M. D. (2018). Neurobiological correlates in Internet Gaming Disorder: A systematic literature review. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 9, 166. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2018.00166
Macur, M., & Pontes, H. M. (2021). Internet gaming disorder in adolescence: Investigating profiles and associated risk factors. BMC Public Health, 21, 1547. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-021-11394-4
Martoncik, M., & Loksa, J. (2016). Do World of Warcraft (MMORPG) players experience less loneliness and social anxiety in online world (virtual environment) than in real world (offline)? Computers in Human Behavior, 56, 127–134. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2015.11.035
Miech, R. A., Johnston, L. D., O’Malley, P. M., Bachman, J. G., Schulenberg, J. E., & Patrick, M. E. (2021). Monitoring the Future national survey results on drug use, 1975–2020: Volume 1, secondary school students. Ann Arbor: Institute for Social Research, the University of Michigan.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2020). Tobacco and nicotine drug chart. https://www.drugabuse.gov/drug-topics/commonly-used-drugs-charts#tobacco
Pentz, M. A., Hieftje, K. D., Pendergrass, T. M., Brito, S. A., Liu, M., Arora, T., Tindle, H. A., Krishnan-Sarin, S., & Fiellin, L. E. (2019). A videogame intervention for tobacco product use prevention in adolescents. Addictive Behaviors, 91, 188–192. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.addbeh.2018.11.016
Pontes, H. M., & Griffiths, M. D. (2015). Measuring DSM-5 internet gaming disorder: Development and validation of a short psychometric scale. Computers in Human Behavior, 45, 137–143. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2014.12.006
Soneji, S., Barrington-Trimis, J. L., Wills, T. A., Leventhal, A. M., Unger, J. B., Gibson, L. A., Yang, J., Primack, B. A., Andrews, J. A., Miech, R. A., Spindle, T. R., Dick, D. M., Eissenberg, T., Hornik, R. C., Dang, R., & Sargent, J. D. (2017). Association between initial use of e-cigarettes and subsequent cigarette smoking among adolescents and young adults: A systematic review and meta analysis. JAMA Pediatrics, 171, 788–797. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamapediatrics.2017.1488
Sourmelis, T., Ioannou, A., & Zaphiris, P. (2017). Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Games (MMORPGs) and the 21st century skills: A comprehensive research review from 2010 to 2016. Computers in Human Behavior, 67, 41–48. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2016.10.020
Spindle, T. R., Cone, E. J., Schlienz, N. J., Mitchell, J. M., Bigelow, G. E., Flegel, R., Hayes, E., & Vandrey, R. (2018). Acute effects of smoked and vaporized cannabis in healthy adults who infrequently use cannabis: A crossover trial. JAMA Network Open, 1(7), e184841. https://doi.org/10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2018.4841
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). (2020). Reducing vaping among youth and young adults. SAMHSA Publication No. PEP20–06–01–003. Rockville, MD: National Mental Health and Substance Use Policy Laboratory, SAMHSA.
Taleb, Z. B., Kalan, M. E., Bahelah, R., Boateng, G. O., Rahman, M., & Alshbool, F. Z. (2020). Vaping while high: Factors associated with vaping marijuana among youth in the United States. Drug & Alcohol Dependence, 217, 108290. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.drugalcdep.2020.108290
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (2016). E-cigarette use among youth and young adults: A report of the Surgeon General—executive summary. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Office on Smoking and Health.
World Health Organization. (2018). International statistical classification of diseases and related health problems (11th Revision). https://icd.who.int/browse11/l-m/en
Wyman, P. A., Rulison, K., Pisani, A. R., Alvaro, E. M., Crano, W. D., Schmeelk-Cone, K., Keller Elliot, C., Wortzel, J., Pickering, T. A., & Espelage, D. L. (2021). Above the influence of vaping: Peer leader influence and diffusion of a network-informed preventive intervention. Addictive Behaviors, 113, 106693. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.addbeh.2020.106693
Yesilyurt, F. (2020). Gaming duration and preferences: Relationships with psychiatric health, gaming addiction scores and academic success in high school students. International Education Studies, 13, 111–119.
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare no competing interests.
Springer Nature remains neutral with regard to jurisdictional claims in published maps and institutional affiliations.
About this article
Cite this article
Giordano, A.L., Morey, A.W., Kim, I.K. et al. School Counselors’ Experiences with Student Vaping and Internet Gaming: a Report from the Field. Int J Adv Counselling 45, 441–457 (2023). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10447-023-09518-z