Problematic internet use prior to and during the COVID-19 pandemic

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State: Public
Version: Final published version
License: CC BY-NC-ND 4.0
Serval ID
serval:BIB_2776A1097EC5
Type
Article: article from journal or magazin.
Collection
Publications
Institution
Title
Problematic internet use prior to and during the COVID-19 pandemic
Journal
Cyberpsychology: Journal of Psychosocial Research on Cyberspace
Author(s)
Zarco-Alpuente Alfredo, Ciudad-Fernández Víctor, Ballester-Arnal Rafael, Billieux Joël, Gil-Llario María Dolores, King Daniel L., Montoya-Castilla Inma, Samper Paula, Castro-Calvo Jesús
ISSN
1802-7962
Publication state
Published
Issued date
2021
Peer-reviewed
Oui
Volume
15
Number
4
Pages
article 1
Language
english
Abstract
The health and socio-economic challenges arising from the COVID-19 pandemic have led to greater reliance on the internet to meet basic needs and responsibilities. Greater engagement in online activities may have negative mental and physical health consequences for some vulnerable individuals, particularly under mandatory self-isolation or ‘lockdown’ conditions. The present study investigated whether changes in levels of involvement in online activities during the COVID-19 pandemic (i.e., watching TV series, online sexual activities, video games, social networks, gambling, online shopping, and instant messaging) were associated with problematic internet use, as well as whether certain psychological risk factors (positive/negative affect and impulsivity) were significant predictors of these changes. A total of 1,275 participants (66.1% female, aged between 18-55 years) completed an online survey while in lockdown in Spain (April 15th-23rd, 2020). The survey assessed current engagement in seven different online activities and their engagement prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as psychological risk factors (affect and impulsivity). Most participants (between 60.8%-98.6% depending on the activity) reported no changes in participation in online activities, but there was a significant increase in weekly internet use (between 25 and 336 min). However, increased internet use was not accompanied by a corresponding increase in problematic use, except for problematic TV series watching and video gaming. Psychological risk factors considered in the study (affect, impulsivity traits) were largely minor or non-significant predictors. Thus, increased internet use during the lockdown in Spain was not related to a proportional growth in problematic usage, suggesting that these behavioral changes may constitute adaptive coping strategies in the context of the pandemic.
Keywords
Covid-19, Internet Use, Gaming, TV series, Cybersex, Social Network Sites
Open Access
Yes
Create date
18/11/2021 21:22
Last modification date
22/11/2021 7:38
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