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Article Abstract

Online ISSN: 1099-176X    Print ISSN: 1091-4358
The Journal of Mental Health Policy and Economics
Volume 22, Issue 2, 2019. Pages: 61-70
Published Online: 1 June 2019

Copyright © 2019 ICMPE.


 

The Impact of Internet Gaming on Alcohol Consumption

Young-Joo Kim,1* Dai-Jin Kim,2 Youngjo Lee3

1Ph.D., Department of Economics, Hongik University, Mapo-gu, Wausan-ro 94, Seoul, 04066, Korea
2MD, Ph.D., Department of Psychiatry, Catholic University of Korea, Seoul St. Mary's Hospital, Seocho-gu, Banpo-daero 222, Seoul, 06591, Korea
3Ph.D., Department of Statistics, Seoul National University, Gwanak-gu, Gwanak-ro 1, Seoul, 08826, Korea

* Correspondence to: Young-Joo Kim, Ph.D., Department of Economics, Hongik University, Mapo-gu, Wausan-ro 94, Seoul, 04066, Korea.
Tel.: +82-2-320 1795
Fax: +82-2-322 8845
E-mail: y.j.kim@hongik.ac.kr

Source of Funding: This research was supported by the Brain Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF) funded by the Ministry of Science, ICT & Future Planning (NRF-2014M3C7A1062893) and by the Korea Government (MSIT) (No 2019R1A2C1002408).

Abstract
We investigate the impact of internet gaming on alcohol consumption with data from South Korea. Using the gaming starting age and internet gaming club membership as instruments for internet gaming time, we show that men are less likely to drink alcohol as they engage more with internet games, while women are more likely to drink alcohol with longer hours of internet games. Building on these findings, we go on to explore potential factors that contribute to heterogeneity in gaming effects by gender with details on gaming behavior and preference. We find large disparities in types of gaming devices and playing partners between men and women and that these factors account for part of the different gaming effects. The opposite effects of internet gaming on alcohol consumption for male and female users are robust to alternative specifications and estimation methods.


Background: Despite growing evidence of the adverse effects of internet gaming, it has emerged as a popular leisure activity in South Korea and Asia. This is the first study that examines the causal effect of internet gaming on alcohol consumption.

Aims of the Study: The primary goal of this study is to evaluate the effect of internet gaming on alcohol consumption while controlling for unobserved individual attributes that are omitted in the alcohol consumption regression but are correlated with internet game usage.

Methods: We use data from a survey of 5,003 men and women who lived in Seoul and the surrounding metropolitan area of South Korea during the year 2014. We use the instrumental variable regressions and partially linear regressions.

Results: We first find that the age at which an individual starts internet gaming and being a member of an internet gaming club are significantly associated with the average hours spent internet gaming in adulthood. Using these two instrumental variables, we show that longer hours of internet gaming is associated with less consumption of alcohol among men, but more consumption of alcohol among women. The opposite effects of internet gaming on alcohol consumption for male and female users are robust to alternative specifications and estimation methods.

Discussion: We investigate potential channels through which men and women are differently affected by internet gaming on alcohol consumption. We find large disparities in types of gaming devices and playing partners between men and women and that these factors account for part of the different gaming effects by gender. Other gaming preferences contributing to the heterogeneous game effects are not examined due to lack of data, which is the limitation of this study.

Implications for Health Policies: The empirical findings suggest that female users of internet games, in particular those who are vulnerable to social isolation, can reap the most benefit toward reducing the risk of developing Alcohol  Use Disorder (AUD) from health interventions that aim to monitor unhealthy use of internet games.

Implications for Health Care Provision and Use: Understanding the impact of internet gaming on other substance use such as alcohol will be useful for the design of effective clinical treatments and preventative health care provision.

Implications for Further Research: Based on the finding that men are likely to sit for longer periods of time indulging in games, further research may examine how the prolonged sedentary leisure activity of internet gaming affect obesity and other physical health problems.

Received 2 February 2018; accepted 23 May 2019

Copyright 2019 ICMPE