Lavoie C, Dufour M, Berbiche J, Therriault D, Lane J. (2023). The relationship between problematic internet use and anxiety disorder symptoms in youth: Specificity of the type of application and gender. Computers in Human Behavior. 140.
During adolescence, some youth develop anxiety disorders such as social anxiety disorder (SAD) or generalized anxiety disorder (GAD). However, few studies have been conducted to understand the specific contribution of SAD and GAD to Problematic Internet Use (PIU). In order to adapt intervention strategies, a specific understanding of the contribution of each of these disorders to PIU is necessary. The goal of this study is to evaluate the unique contributions of GAD, SAD, self-esteem, gender, preferred Internet application (video game or social media) and stressful events among PIU adolescents. The sample was constituted of 2883 adolescents (44.3% boys; age 14.61 years) recruited in high schools. Two groups of problematic Internet users were formed based on their time spent on video games (PIU-VG) or social media (PIU-SM). A multinomial logistic regression model showed that self-identifying as girl, living with GAD symptoms, reporting many stressful events and low self-esteem increase the risk of PIU-SM. Likewise, self-identifying as boy, having SAD symptoms, reporting stressful events and low self-esteem increase the risk of PIU-VG. GAD appears to be specifically associated with problematic social media use and SAD with problematic video games use. Results suggest the importance of considering specific anxiety disorders in adolescent PIU evaluation and intervention.