Front Psychiatry. 2018 Aug 7;9:351. doi: 10.3389/fpsyt.2018.00351. eCollection 2018.
Aims: This study aimed to investigate in a gender-sensitive manner factors related to at-risk/problematic Internet use (ARPIU) in a sample of young Korean adolescents. Given prior findings, we hypothesized we would observe specific temperamental, social and biological measures that would statistically predict ARPIU in boys and girls, respectively.
Method: Subjects included 653 middle-school students from Chuncheon, Korea who completed measures assessing Internet addiction, mood, temperament, and social interactions. Finger digit (2D:4D) ratios were also assessed. Chi-square and logistic regression models were conducted.
Results: Among boys and girls, the ARPIU and non-ARPIU groups showed differences in temperament, mood, social tendencies, and gaming behaviors. In boys, IAT correlated inversely with the 2D:4D digit ratio and novelty-seeking and positively with reward-dependence scores when controlling for BDI scores; these relationships were not found in girls. Multivariate analyses showed that among boys, novelty-seeking, harm avoidance, self-transcendence, and daily time spent gaming statistically predicted ARPIU. Among girls, daily time spent gaming, number of best friends, self-directedness, and cooperation statistically predicted ARPIU.
Conclusion: ARPIU was linked to specific temperamental, behavioral and biological characteristics, with specific relationships observed in boys and girls. Specific risk factors may exist for boys and girls with respect to their propensities to developing ARPIU, suggesting the need for gender-sensitive approaches to prevent ARPIU in youth.
KEYWORDS: addictive behavior; adolescent; biomarkers; exploratory behavior; gender difference; internet