Psychol Addict Behav. 2018 May;32(3):365-372. doi: 10.1037/adb0000358.
Internet addiction has been typically conceptualized as either a continuous construct or a dichotomous construct. Limited research has differentiated adolescents with problematic Internet use (PIU) from the Internet addiction group (IA) and/or nonproblematic Internet use group (NPIU) and examined the potential correlates. To fill this gap, based on data obtained from 956 Chinese adolescents (11-19 years, 47% male), this study examined if adolescents with PIU is a distinctive group from the IA and NPIU. This study also examined factors from different ecological levels that may differentiate among the three groups, including individual, parental, peer, and sociodemographic factors. Results indicated that IA, PIU, and NPIU differed significantly on scores of Young’s Diagnostic Questionnaire (YDQ). Critical factors emerging from different ecological levels could differentiate between PIU and NPIU and between IA and NPIU. Such findings suggest that PIU may represent a distinct, intermediate group of Internet users. The potential theoretical and practical implications of identifying PIU were also discussed.