Gaming, Social Media and Nightmares

While our group has been investigating the association between gaming and nightmares or nightmarish content in dreams, we have not considered the role of social media. The time has come with the widespread and pervasive use of such media to consider if simply being in a virtual world where you have some control of the “variables” is sufficient for nightmare protection or if the specific of game play, i.e. rehearsal of combat readiness, is needed. This inquiry was undertaken with about 700 primarily undergraduate students at a western Canadian university. Preliminary data analysis (n=94) is discussed herein. Three gaming and three social media frequency variables were considered along with history of nightmares, self-assessment of a reported dream as a nightmare, and judges coding of threat simulation in the same dream were entered into a varimax rotated factor analysis. Nightmares were not expected to be associated with gaming and indeed factor one loaded frequency of game play, playing in the 24 hours prior to filling out the survey and using social media game sites with the dream they reported as not being a nightmare. The three social media variables (Facebook, twitter, or other nongame social media) frequency of use loaded together on the second factor with none of the nightmare variables. The third factor loaded the lack of frequent Facebook use with higher average monthly nightmares, more likely to report this dream as a nightmare, and the coded dream threat as not being objective. This is surprising as we had a ceiling effect with frequency of Facebook use. About two thirds of this subsample, where threat in dreams was coded, reported Facebook use several times a day with another 18% reporting it as a daily occurrence. While the expected gamer finding was supported, what’s new here is that those that do not embrace Facebook, to the extent of their peers, also report more distress in dreams. These data are preliminary and full data analysis on nightmares, threat simulation coding and social media/gaming use will be reported.

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