Internet addiction and psychological distress among Chinese schoolchildren before and during the COVID-19 outbreak: A latent class analysis

I.-Hua CHEN, Chao-Ying CHEN, Chieh-Hsiu LIU, Daniel Kwasi AHORSU, Mark D. GRIFFITHS, Yu-Pin CHEN, Yi-Jie KUO, Chung-Ying LIN, Amir H. PAKPOUR, Shu-Mei WANG

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

63 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Background and aims: The present longitudinal study examined the changes in problematic internet use (problematic smartphone use, problematic social media use, and problematic gaming) and changes in COVID-19-related psychological distress (fear of COVID-19 and worry concerning COVID-19) across three time-points (before the COVID-19 outbreak, during the initial stages of the COVID-19 outbreak, and during the COVID-19 outbreak recovery period). 

Methods: A total of 504 Chinese schoolchildren completed measures concerning problematic internet use and psychological distress across three time-points. Latent class analysis (LCA) was used to classify participants into three groups of problematic internet use comprising Group 1 (lowest level), Group 2 (moderate level), and Group 3 (highest level). 

Results: Statistical analyses showed that as problematic use of internet-related activities declined among Group 3 participants across the three time points, participants in Group 1 and Group 2 had increased problematic use of internet-related activities. Although there was no between-group difference in relation to worrying concerning COVID-19 infection, Groups 2 and 3 had significantly higher levels of fear of COVID-19 than Group 1 during the COVID-19 recovery period. Regression analysis showed that change in problematic internet use predicted fear of COVID-19 during the recovery period. 

Conclusion: The varied levels of problematic internet use among schoolchildren reflect different changing trends of additive behaviors during COVID-19 outbreak and recovery periods. Copyright © 2021 The Author(s).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)731-746
JournalJournal of Behavioral Addictions
Volume10
Issue number3
Early online dateSept 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2021

Citation

Chen, I.-H., Chen, C.-Y., Liu, C.-H., Ahorsu, D. K., Griffiths, M. D., Chen, Y.-P., . . . Wang, S.-M. (2021). Internet addiction and psychological distress among Chinese schoolchildren before and during the COVID-19 outbreak: A latent class analysis. Journal of Behavioral Addictions, 10(3), 731-746. doi: 10.1556/2006.2021.00052

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • Problematic gaming
  • Problematic social media use
  • Problematic smartphone use
  • Psychological distress

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