Choice of leisure activities by adolescents and adults with internet gaming disorder: Development and feasibility study of a virtual reality program

Narae Lee, Jae Jin Kim, Yu Bin Shin, Hyojung Eom, Min Kyeong Kim, Sunghyon Kyeong, Young Hoon Jung, Sarang Min, Joon Hee Kwon, Eunjoo Kim

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7 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Excessive internet game use frequently leads to various physical, psychological, and social problems, and internet gaming disorder (IGD) has become a serious public health issue worldwide. Recently, virtual reality (VR) therapy has emerged as a promising method to increase psychological treatment motivation and accessibility. However, few studies have examined the potential of VR technology for the management of IGD, and VR content tailored to IGD characteristics remains scarce. Objective: This preliminary study aimed to examine the potential of a VR-based program that was designed to help users identify their leisure time use patterns, especially those related to gaming, and to modify their gaming overuse by alternative activities provided in the VR content. Moreover, to investigate whether users’ VR activities reflect various clinical variables of IGD in youth, we examined the relationships among the leisure time activity selection pattern, built-in response, and speech data obtained from the VR program, as well as symptom severity of internet gaming, psychiatric comorbidities, and motivation of participants reported through relevant questionnaire data. Methods: Three types of VR content (understanding my daily activities at home, finding an alternative activity to internet gaming at home, expressing contradictory opinions toward a friend’s gaming beliefs) were developed by simulating the daily situations in which patients with IGD can select alternative free-time leisure activities. We examined internet addiction, mental health problems, and motivation for 23 IGD and 29 control participants. Behavioral and self-rated responses from VR, such as alternative activity selection data and speech patterns (speech time, speech satisfaction, and speech accordance), and results from various questionnaires were compared between groups. The correlations between IGD behaviors in VR and real-life behaviors assessed by questionnaire measures were analyzed. Results: Significant correlations were found between internet gaming behavior and user activity data, such as speech and activity selection pattern, in our VR program. Our results showed that the IGD group had fewer leisure activities and preferred game or digital activities to other types of activities compared to controls, even in VR. There was a positive relationship between the viability of alternative leisure activities the participants selected in VR and the amount of perceived satisfaction from that activity (r=.748, P<.001). Speech accordance in the IGD group was lower than in the control group and was correlated negatively with Internet Addiction Test and Internet Addiction Test–gaming scores (r=.300, P=.03) but positively with users’ motivation (r=.312, P=.02). Conclusions: The results from our VR program can provide information about daily activity patterns of youths with IGD and the relationship between user VR activities and IGD symptoms, which can be useful in applying VR technology to IGD management.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere18473
JournalJMIR Serious Games
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2020 Oct

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the Brain Research Program through the National Research Foundation of Korea, funded by the Ministry of Science, ICT & Future Planning (NRF-2015M3C7A1065053).

Publisher Copyright:
© Narae Lee, Jae-Jin Kim, Yu-Bin Shin, Hyojung Eom, Min-Kyeong Kim, Sunghyon Kyeong, Young Hoon Jung, Sarang Min, Joon Hee Kwon, Eunjoo Kim.

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biomedical Engineering


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