From Parental Bonding to Problematic Gaming: The Mediating Role of Adult Attachment Styles

Gianluca Santoro, Laura Rosa Midolo, Antonino Costanzo, Maria Silvia Cassarà, Santi Russo, Alessandro Musetti, Adriano Schimmenti


Background: Research has found that parental failures of care during childhood and insecure attachment styles are positively associated with problematic gaming. From a developmental framework, it is possible to hypothesize that attachment styles mediate the relationship between parental bonding and problematic gaming.

Methods: This hypothesis was tested in a sample of 598 videogame players (410 males, 68.56%) aged between 18 and 61 years old (M = 26.68, SD = 7.23). Participants were recruited through an online survey. Self-report instruments were administered to assess problematic gaming, parental bonding, and adult attachment styles.

Results: Positive paternal care was a direct and negative predictor of problematic gaming, whereas maternal overprotection indirectly predicted problematic gaming through preoccupied attachment.

Conclusions: These findings suggest that positive paternal care represents a protective factor for problematic gaming; in contrast, maternal overprotection might foster a negative view of the self in the child, which increases the risk to excessively use videogames, perhaps as a maladaptive coping strategy to regulate negative feelings. Prevention programs might be aimed to improve the responsiveness of parents towards the child’s emotional needs, to prevent the development of problematic gaming. Also, clinical intervention with problematic gamers might foster their feelings of security toward relationships, to promote both a healthier use of videogames and a better quality of life.


Problematic Gaming; Parental Bonding; Attachment Styles; Mediation; Clinical Psychology.

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