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Article

Addictive Internet Gaming Usage among Korean Adolescents before and after the Outbreak of the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Comparison of the Latent Profiles in 2018 and 2020

Department of Education, College of Education, Seoul National University, Seoul 08826, Korea
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Academic Editor: Gergely Fehér
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(14), 7275; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18147275
Received: 3 May 2021 / Revised: 1 July 2021 / Accepted: 4 July 2021 / Published: 7 July 2021
(This article belongs to the Topic Internet Addiction)
Since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the heightened risk of school closures and mental disorders has made adolescents particularly vulnerable to developing internet gaming disorder (IGD). There have been reports of increased time spent playing games on the internet among adolescents during the pandemic, and the risk of developing IGD may be higher for adolescents in South Korea as the majority of them play games on the internet. However, to the best of our knowledge, no studies have examined the impact of the pandemic on adolescents’ internet gaming behavior in South Korea. This study aimed to explore the different profiles of addictive internet gaming behavior among adolescents before and after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and examine how the pandemic influenced addictive internet gaming usage and time spent playing games on the internet. Nationally representative survey data from the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family with 3040 and 2906 responses from 2018 and 2020, respectively, were analyzed. Using seven factors of a maladaptive gaming usage scale (tolerance, withdrawal, excessive usage, control impairment, compulsive usage, neglecting daily activity, and gaming despite negative consequence), a four-profile model was selected in both 2018 and 2020 for latent profile analysis: ‘casual’ gamer, ‘moderate’ gamer, ‘potential-risk’ gamer and ‘addictive’ gamer. The results from the two-way ANCOVA showed significant interaction between the cohorts (2018 cohort vs. 2020 cohort) and the four profiles on addictive internet gaming usage (F = 119.747, p < 0.001, η2 = 0.05), including time spent playing internet games on a PC (F = 22.893, p < 0.001, η2 = 0.013), and time spent playing games on a mobile phone (F = 3.245, p < 0.05, η2 = 0.02). The results indicated that the increase of addictive internet gaming usage and gameplay time differed by profile. The results imply that the increase in gameplay time was higher for profiles with higher scores in addictive internet gaming usage for internet games played on a PC while the relationship was not obvious for games played on a mobile phone. Despite the statistical significance, there was only 1.2% to 4.9% of mean difference in addictive internet gaming usage between the 2018 and 2020 cohorts, which implies little clinical significance. While adolescents of the four profiles showed no significant signs of increased addictive internet gaming usage, the addictive gamer profile demonstrated a significant increase in game time after COVID-19. View Full-Text
Keywords: internet gaming disorder; adolescents; COVID-19; gameplay time; Korea internet gaming disorder; adolescents; COVID-19; gameplay time; Korea
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MDPI and ACS Style

Kim, D.; Lee, J. Addictive Internet Gaming Usage among Korean Adolescents before and after the Outbreak of the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Comparison of the Latent Profiles in 2018 and 2020. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18, 7275. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18147275

AMA Style

Kim D, Lee J. Addictive Internet Gaming Usage among Korean Adolescents before and after the Outbreak of the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Comparison of the Latent Profiles in 2018 and 2020. International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health. 2021; 18(14):7275. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18147275

Chicago/Turabian Style

Kim, Dongil, and Junwon Lee. 2021. "Addictive Internet Gaming Usage among Korean Adolescents before and after the Outbreak of the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Comparison of the Latent Profiles in 2018 and 2020" International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health 18, no. 14: 7275. https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18147275

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