Network analysis of internet gaming disorder, problematic social media use, problematic smartphone use, psychological distress, and meaning in life among adolescents

Research output: Journal Publications and ReviewsRGC 21 - Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

7 Scopus Citations
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Original languageEnglish
Journal / PublicationDigital Health
Online published28 Feb 2023
Publication statusPublished - 2023



Background: Few studies have examined the connections between psychological distress, meaning in life, internet gaming disorder (IGD), problematic smartphone use (PSU), and problematic social media use (PSMU). Methods: The central and bridging nodes of IGD, PSMU, and PSU symptoms were investigated using network analysis in China among 742 adolescents (Mage = 15.39, SD = 1.68, range = 12–19; 53.23% female). The relationships between IGD, PSMU, and PSU and associated factors were investigated using a Directed Acyclic Graphs method. Results: The results suggested that the central symptoms were withdrawal in IGD, mood modification in PSU, and tolerance in PSMU. Mood modification in IGD, mood modification in PSU, withdrawal in PSMU, and functional impairment in PSMU were the bridge symptoms. Males were more likely to experience symptoms of IGD than females, while females were more likely to need meaning than males. Stress is the root factor, while depression, meaning confusion, meaning anxiety, and meaning avoidance were closely associated with IGD, PSMU, and PSU. Conclusions: The current research improved the understanding of IGD, PSMU, and PSU symptoms in teenagers and demonstrated the potential of dynamic systems perspectives on problematic use behaviors and stress/meaning-focused interventions. © The Author(s) 2023.

Research Area(s)

  • internet gaming disorder, meaning in life, problematic smartphone use, problematic social media use, psychological distress

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