Does Playing Sports Video Games Predict Increased Involvement in Real-Life Sports Over Several Years Among Older Adolescents and Emerging Adults?

Abstract

Given the extreme popularity of video games among older adolescents and emerging adults, the investigation of positive outcomes of video game play during these developmental periods is crucial. An important direction for research in this area is the investigation of a link between sports video game play and involvement in real-life sports among youth. Yet, this association has not been examined in the long-term among older adolescents and emerging adults, and thus represents an exciting new area for discovery. The primary goal of the current study, therefore, was to examine the long-term association between sports video game play and involvement in real-life sports clubs among older adolescents and emerging adults. In addition, we examined whether self-esteem was an underlying mechanism of this longitudinal association. We surveyed older adolescents and emerging adults (N = 1132; 70.6 % female; M age = 19.06 years, range of 17–25 years at the first assessment) annually over 3 years about their video game play, self-esteem, and involvement in real-life sports. We found a long-term predictive effect of sports video game play on increased involvement in real-life sports over the 3 years. Furthermore, we demonstrated that self-esteem was an underlying mechanism of this long-term association. Our findings make an important contribution to an emerging body of literature on the positive outcomes of video game play, as they suggest that sports video game play may be an effective tool to promote real-life sports participation and physical activity among older adolescents and emerging adults.

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Author contributions

P.A. conceived the study, conducted most of the statistical analyses, and drafted the manuscript. T.W. collected the data and participated in the statistical analyses as well as the drafting of the manuscript. All authors read and approved the final manuscript.

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The authors report no conflict of interests.

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Correspondence to Paul J. C. Adachi.

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Adachi, P.J.C., Willoughby, T. Does Playing Sports Video Games Predict Increased Involvement in Real-Life Sports Over Several Years Among Older Adolescents and Emerging Adults?. J Youth Adolescence 45, 391–401 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10964-015-0312-2

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Keywords

  • Sports video game play
  • Self-esteem
  • Involvement in real-life sports
  • Older adolescents
  • Emerging adults
  • Longitudinal