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A latent profile approach for the study of internet gaming disorder, social media addiction, and psychopathology in a normative sample of adolescents

Authors Cerniglia L, Griffiths MD, Cimino S, De Palo V, Monacis L, Sinatra M, Tambelli R

Received 13 April 2019

Accepted for publication 24 June 2019

Published 13 August 2019 Volume 2019:12 Pages 651—659


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Professor Igor Elman

Luca Cerniglia,1,2 Mark D Griffiths,2,3 Silvia Cimino,2,4 Valeria De Palo,2,5 Lucia Monacis,2,5 Maria Sinatra,2,6 Renata Tambelli4

1Department of Psychology, International Telematic University Uninettuno, Rome, Italy; 2Centre for Advanced Studies on Cyberpsychology and Ethics (ASPEN), University of Bari, Bari, Italy; 3International Gaming Research Unit, Division of Psychology, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK; 4Department of Dynamic and Clinical Psychology, University of Rome “la Sapienza”, Rome, Italy; 5Department of Humanities, University of Foggia, Foggia, Italy; 6Department of Educational Sciences, Psychology, Communication, University of Bari Aldo Moro, Bari, Italy

Background: For a small minority of individuals, the overuse of digital technologies has been associated with negative factors, including psychological distress and psychopathological symptoms. Two technology-based addictions – internet gaming disorder (IGD) and social media addiction (SMA) – have been found to be related to comorbid disorders and impulsivity especially in adolescents and emerging adults’ populations, but results in this field are inconclusive
Purpose: Using the latent profile analysis (LPA), this study identified different profiles of adolescents characterized by unique patterns of psychopathological risks, and similar levels of impulsivity, IGD, and SMA.
Participants and methods: A total of 643 participants (312 males; Mage =16.02 years) were divided into three age groups (early, mid-, and late adolescence). They completed a battery of scales comprising: Internet Gaming Disorder Scale–Short Form, Bergen Social Media Addiction Scale, Barratt Impulsiveness Scale for Adolescents, and Symptom Checklist-90-R.
Results: LPAs revealed distinct profiles across early, mid- and late adolescence with regards to the psychopathological variables taken into account. Specifically, only two profiles were identified in the 14–15 year age group, whereas three profiles emerged in the 16–17 year age group.
Conclusion: This study highlighted that the profiles identified in each age group differed in terms of psychopathological risk (low, medium and high), showing instead similar (and non-clinical) scores in technology-based addictions and impulsivity. Results could be useful in designing prevention and intervention programs in youth showing similar patterns for technology-based addictions, but different levels of psychopathological symptoms.

Keywords: internet gaming disorder, gaming addiction, social media addiction, online addictions, impulsivity, psychopathology

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