Problematic video gaming is negatively associated with bone mineral density in adolescents


European Journal of Pediatrics, 2024 (SCI-Expanded) identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Publication Date: 2024
  • Doi Number: 10.1007/s00431-023-05399-x
  • Journal Name: European Journal of Pediatrics
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus, Academic Search Premier, BIOSIS, CAB Abstracts, CINAHL, EMBASE
  • Keywords: Adolescent, Bone mineral density, Internet gaming disorder, Problematic video gaming
  • Hacettepe University Affiliated: Yes


Adolescent bone health may be negatively impacted by problematic video gaming (PVG) due to factors such as prolonged screen time, poor sleep quality, and increased depression. Although sedentary behaviors have been linked to decreased bone mass, there is limited research on how PVG impacts bone health. We aimed to evaluate the association between PVG and bone mineral density (BMD) in adolescents by comparing the BMD z-scores of adolescents with and without PVG and by identifying PVG-related risk factors that may affect low BMD scores. This cross-sectional study took place between May 2019 and August 2021 with 110 adolescents who played video games for at least two hours per day. Data on screen time, game genre, tobacco, alcohol, caffeine consumption, and vigorous physical activity status were recorded. PVG was assessed using the Internet Gaming Disorder-Short Form (IGDS9-SF), with scores ≤ 16 comprising the control group and > 16 the PVG group. Sleep quality was assessed by Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, and depression was evaluated by Children’s Depression Inventory. Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry measurements of femoral neck and lumbar spine BMD were compared between the two groups. The mean age of the participants was 14.2 ± 1.8 years, and 86.4% were males. The PVG group exhibited lower femoral neck z-scores (p = 0.013) and a higher proportion of adolescents with low femoral neck BMD risk (27.8% vs 9.7%, p = 0.041). Lumber spine z-scores did not differ (p = 0.271). Despite poorer depressive symptoms and sleep quality in the PVG group, they were not associated with low BMD risk (OR 1.02, 95% CI 0.97–1.08, p = 0.398 and OR 1.00, 95% CI 0.87–1.18, p = 0.972, respectively). Among all PVG-related risk factors, video game time (aOR = 1.22, 95% CI = 1.06–1.41, p = 0.006) and vigorous physical activity amount (aOR = 2.86, 95% CI = 0.93–8.76, p = 0.080) showed the strongest associations with femoral neck z-scores. Conclusion: The results of this study, showing a negative association between PVG and femoral neck BMD in adolescents, underscore the importance evaluating, monitoring, and supporting lower extremity bone health in adolescents with PVG. What is Known: • Adolescents with problematic video gaming are at risk for depression, impaired sleep; sedentary lifestyle; consumption of tobacco, alcohol, and drugs; and high caffeine intake. • These risk factors might lead to compromised bone health. What is New: • Problematic video gaming is associated with the low femoral neck bone mineral density risk in adolescents. • Extended video game time and reduced physical activity are found to be the primary risk factors.