Adolescence is characterized by emotional instability and risk-taking behaviours that can lead to, among other things, an increased propensity to develop pathological video-gaming and gambling habits.

The eleventh edition of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD-11), which was produced by the World Health Organization, defines gaming disorder as a pattern of recurrent or persistent gaming behaviour manifested by impaired control over gaming, exaggerated priority given to gaming (which takes precedence over daily activities as well as other life interests), and perpetuation or even intensification of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences. Furthermore, it defines gambling disorder using the same criteria but referring to gambling instead of gaming behaviours.

Growing empirical evidence suggests that each of these two disorders is positively associated with adolescents’ mental health issues [1, 2], substance use [3, 4], and physical violence [3, 5]. With regard to epidemiologic data, at present, it is estimated that 0.2%-12.3% of adolescents in Europe meet the criteria for internet gaming disorder [6], whereas 0.2%-5.0% meet the criteria for problem gambling [7], with large heterogeneity across nations.

Therefore, it is not surprising that pathological use of video gaming and pathological gambling have become an emerging public health problem [8, 9]. However, to define efficient prevention and intervention plans and to properly allocate resources, a precise estimation of these mental disorders among adolescents remains an urgent requirement. Therefore, the aim of this study was to assess the prevalence and type of video gaming and gambling habits in adolescent students attending Italian upper-secondary schools.

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