Special Issue "A Further Look at Risk Behaviors in Adolescents: An Update on Assessment Instruments, Explanation Models, and Interventions Focused on Individual and Environmental Risk/Protective Factors"

A special issue of International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health (ISSN 1660-4601). This special issue belongs to the section "Global Health".

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 31 October 2021.

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Maria Anna Donati
E-Mail Website
Chief Guest Editor
NEUROFARBA Department, Section of Psychology, University of Florence, 50135, Florence, Italy.
Interests: psychometrics; assessment; adolescents; prevention; risky decision making; gambling; video-gaming
Dr. Giulia Fioravanti
E-Mail Website
Assistant Guest Editor
Department of Health Sciences, University of Florence, 50135, Florence, Italy
Interests: Clinical Psychology; Psychological Assessment; Problematic Internet Use; Social media use; Social Networking addiction
Dr. Dora Dodig Hundric
E-Mail Website
Assistant Guest Editor
Department of Behavioural Disorders, Faculty of Education and Rehabilitation Sciences, University of Zagreb, Zagreb 10000, Croatia
Interests: behavioral addiction; gambling; internet addiction; juvenile delinquency; risk behaviors

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

In the complexity and challenges of the 21st century, increasing knowledge about adolescent risk behaviors is fundamental for the understanding of these complex phenomena as well as for the development and improvement of evidence-based interventions.

However, too often, in the basic and applied research, there is little attention paid to issues concerning assessment—that is, the employment of tools with adequate psychometric properties that are specific for this age group, the testing of models examining the mechanisms underlying the relationships between individual and environmental risk/protective factors, and the evaluation of the efficacy of preventive and clinical treatment interventions. Additionally, risk behaviors are becoming more complex and diverse, and today we are facing novel problems such as behavioral addictions. To fill these gaps, more rigorous and robust research is needed. Thus, empirical contributions about the analysis of the soundness of assessment instruments, the adequacy of explanation models, and the effectiveness of interventions are called for. To face this challenge, contributions from neuroscience and cognitive, developmental, social, and environmental psychology are invited, as well as works from experts providing interventions aimed at adolescents in different fields such as education, public health, social work, judiciary, etc.

The final goal is to reach a set of contributions that will update knowledge on different risk behaviors such as gambling, video-gaming, internet addiction, juvenile delinquency, substance addiction, school drop-out, etc., through a multicultural and multimethod approach.

Dr. Maria Anna Donati
Dr. Giulia Fioravanti
Dr. Dora Dodig Hundric
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • Adolescents
  • Risk behaviors
  • Assessment
  • Explanation models
  • Interventions

Published Papers (11 papers)

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Research

Article
Father-Teen Talks about Sex and Teens’ Sexual Health: The Role of Direct and Indirect Communication
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(18), 9760; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18189760 - 16 Sep 2021
Viewed by 238
Abstract
Family talks about sex can protect against teens’ risky sexual behavior, but most research has focused on the role of mothers. The current study included cross-sectional survey data from 728 adolescents in the 11th and 12th grades (Mage = 17.00, SD = [...] Read more.
Family talks about sex can protect against teens’ risky sexual behavior, but most research has focused on the role of mothers. The current study included cross-sectional survey data from 728 adolescents in the 11th and 12th grades (Mage = 17.00, SD = 0.90) in the United States. Structural equation modeling (SEM) was used to assess associations between teens’ direct and indirect talk, defined as less straightforward ways to communicate one’s sexual values, with fathers about sex, and teens’ sexual behaviors. There were no significant direct associations between father-teen talk about sex and teens’ sexual behavior. However, teen gender moderated associations between indirect father-teen communication and teens’ sexual behavior. The results suggest the need to assess indirect talk about sex in studies of family sexuality communication and to further investigate the role of teens’ identities in determining the influence of father-teen talk about sex on teens’ sexual behavior. Full article
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Article
The Relationship between Peer Attachment and Aggressive Behavior among Chinese Adolescents: The Mediating Effect of Regulatory Emotional Self-Efficacy
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(13), 7123; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18137123 - 02 Jul 2021
Viewed by 822
Abstract
This study aimed to test the association between peer attachment and aggressive behavior, as well as the mediating effect of regulatory emotional self-efficacy on this relationship. A total of 1171 (582 male, 589 female) Chinese adolescents completed self-reported questionnaires that assessed peer attachment, [...] Read more.
This study aimed to test the association between peer attachment and aggressive behavior, as well as the mediating effect of regulatory emotional self-efficacy on this relationship. A total of 1171 (582 male, 589 female) Chinese adolescents completed self-reported questionnaires that assessed peer attachment, regulatory emotional self-efficacy, and aggressive behavior. Path analysis showed that the negative association between peer attachment and adolescent aggressive behavior was mediated by self-efficacy in managing negative emotions. However, the mediating effect of self-efficacy in expressing positive emotions was nonsignificant. Moreover, there was no significant difference in the indirect paths mentioned above between male and female respondents. These findings highlight self-efficacy in managing negative emotions as a potential mechanism linking peer attachment to adolescent aggressive behavior. Full article
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Article
Gaming among Children and Adolescents during the COVID-19 Lockdown: The Role of Parents in Time Spent on Video Games and Gaming Disorder Symptoms
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(12), 6642; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18126642 - 21 Jun 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 856
Abstract
It is mainly children and adolescents who are involved in video gaming. The lockdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic may have further increased their use of video games and, consequently, the risk of gaming disorder (GD) symptoms. However, currently, we do not have [...] Read more.
It is mainly children and adolescents who are involved in video gaming. The lockdown caused by the COVID-19 pandemic may have further increased their use of video games and, consequently, the risk of gaming disorder (GD) symptoms. However, currently, we do not have exhaustive knowledge of this issue. To fill this gap, the current study aims to analyze video gaming habits in children and adolescents during the lockdown, starting in March 2020 in Italy, the first European country affected by the pandemic. Specifically, we aim to understand how variables related to parents—for instance, knowledge of their offspring’s life, the monitoring of their video gaming habits, and parental use of video games—are related to their offspring’s time spent on video games and GD symptoms. A web-based survey involving parents (n = 554, 79% mothers, mean age = 45.39) of 554 children and adolescents (73% males, mean age = 11.11) was utilized. The results showed that they were involved in video games, particularly boys and adolescents, with high rates of GD symptoms. The parents also spent a considerable amount of time playing video games. A path model that explained the mechanisms through which parental variables were related to their offspring’s time spent on video games and GD symptoms, controlling for gender and age, was verified. Overall, the findings indicate the importance of educating parents to behave effectively with respect to video games and monitor their offspring’s video gaming habits. Full article
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Article
Forest Manners Exchange: Forest as a Place to Remedy Risky Behaviour of Adolescents: Mixed Methods Approach
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(11), 5725; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18115725 - 26 May 2021
Viewed by 961
Abstract
This paper evaluates the impact of the forest environment on aggressive manifestations in adolescents. A remedial educative programme was performed with 68 teenagers from institutions with substitute social care with diagnoses F 30.0 (affective disorders) and F 91.0 (family-related behavioural disorders), aged 12–16 [...] Read more.
This paper evaluates the impact of the forest environment on aggressive manifestations in adolescents. A remedial educative programme was performed with 68 teenagers from institutions with substitute social care with diagnoses F 30.0 (affective disorders) and F 91.0 (family-related behavioural disorders), aged 12–16 years. Adolescents observed patterns of prosocial behaviour in forest animals (wolves, wild boars, deer, bees, ants, squirrels and birds), based on the fact that processes and interactions in nature are analogous to proceedings and bonds in human society. The methodology is based on qualitative and quantitative research. Projective tests (Rorschach Test, Hand Test, Thematic Apperception Test) were used as a diagnostic tool for aggressive manifestations before and after forest therapies based on Shinrin-yoku, wilderness therapy, observational learning and forest pedagogy. Probands underwent 16 therapies lasting for two hours each. The experimental intervention has a statistically significant effect on the decreased final values relating to psychopathology, irritability, restlessness, emotional instability, egocentrism, relativity, and negativism. Forest animals demonstrated to these adolescents ways of communication, cooperation, adaptability, and care for others, i.e., characteristics without which no community can work. Full article
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Article
Rethinking Cell Phone Use While Driving: Isolated Risk Behavior or a Pattern of Risk-Taking Associated with Impulsivity in Young Drivers?
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(11), 5640; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18115640 - 25 May 2021
Viewed by 1601
Abstract
This study examines whether cell phone use stands apart from a general pattern of risky driving practices associated with crashes and impulsivity-related personality traits in young drivers. A retrospective online survey study recruited 384 young drivers from across the United States using Amazon’s [...] Read more.
This study examines whether cell phone use stands apart from a general pattern of risky driving practices associated with crashes and impulsivity-related personality traits in young drivers. A retrospective online survey study recruited 384 young drivers from across the United States using Amazon’s Mechanical Turk to complete a survey measuring risky driving practices (including cell phone use), history of crashes, and impulsivity-related personality traits. Almost half (44.5%) of the drivers reported being involved in at least one crash, and the majority engaged in cell phone use while driving (up to 73%). Factor analysis and structural equation modeling found that cell phone use loaded highly on a latent factor with other risky driving practices that were associated with prior crashes (b = 0.15, [95% CI: 0.01, 0.29]). There was also an indirect relationship between one form of impulsivity and crashes through risky driving (b = 0.127, [95% CI: 0.01, 0.30]). Additional analyses did not find an independent contribution to crashes for frequent cell phone use. These results suggest a pattern of risky driving practices associated with impulsivity in young drivers, indicating the benefit of exploring a more comprehensive safe driving strategy that includes the avoidance of cell phone use as well as other risky practices, particularly for young drivers with greater impulsive tendencies. Full article
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Article
The Relationship between Impulsiveness, Self-Esteem, Irrational Gambling Belief and Problem Gambling Moderating Effects of Gender
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(10), 5180; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18105180 - 13 May 2021
Viewed by 606
Abstract
The present study investigated the relationship between impulsivity, self-esteem, irrational gambling belief, and problem gambling and also explored whether the relationships between these constructs are different for males and females. Participants included 563 college students with 259 males (46.0%) and 304 females (54.0%) [...] Read more.
The present study investigated the relationship between impulsivity, self-esteem, irrational gambling belief, and problem gambling and also explored whether the relationships between these constructs are different for males and females. Participants included 563 college students with 259 males (46.0%) and 304 females (54.0%) from Korea. Participants completed a survey. The results showed that 5.3% of students were problem gamblers, while 9.4% were moderate-risk gamblers. The relationships between impulsivity, self-esteem, irrational gambling belief, and problem gambling differed for males and females. For females, greater impulsivity and lower self-esteem predicted higher irrational gambling belief, while higher irrational gambling belief predicted more problem gambling. For males, greater impulsivity predicted higher irrational gambling belief, and higher irrational gambling belief predicted more problem gambling. This finding suggests that different prevention efforts are needed, which will require identifying the variables that affect problem gambling. Full article
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Article
Modelling the Contribution of Metacognitions, Impulsiveness, and Thought Suppression to Behavioural Addictions in Adolescents
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(7), 3820; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18073820 - 06 Apr 2021
Viewed by 1273
Abstract
The most common behavioral addictions in adolescents are Internet Gaming Disorder (IGD), Compulsive Sexual Behavior Disorder (CSBD), and Problematic Social Networks Use (PSNU). In the present study, we investigated whether thought suppression and impulsiveness mediate the relationship between metacognitions and these three behavioral [...] Read more.
The most common behavioral addictions in adolescents are Internet Gaming Disorder (IGD), Compulsive Sexual Behavior Disorder (CSBD), and Problematic Social Networks Use (PSNU). In the present study, we investigated whether thought suppression and impulsiveness mediate the relationship between metacognitions and these three behavioral addictions (IGD, CSBD and PSNU). In Study 1 (n = 471), we examined whether online gaming thought suppression and impulsiveness mediate the relationship between metacognitions and IGD. In Study 2 (n = 453), we examined whether sex thought suppression and impulsiveness mediate the relationship between metacognitions and CSBD. In Study 3 (n = 1004), we examined whether social media thought suppression and impulsiveness mediate the relationship between metacognitions and PSNU. Results of path analysis indicated, across the three studies, the importance of both thought suppression and impulsiveness as mediators between metacognitions and the three behavioral addictions (IGD, CSBD and PSNU) being investigated. These findings provide an opportunity for therapists as well as educators to gain a better insight into the link between metacognitions, thought suppression, impulsiveness, and behavioral addictions as part of developmental behavior among adolescents. Full article
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Article
Examining the Exercise and Self-Esteem Model Revised with Self-Compassion among Hong Kong Secondary School Students Using Structural Equation Modeling
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(7), 3661; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18073661 - 01 Apr 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 817
Abstract
The association between physical activity in achieving mental health benefits and subjective well-being is consistently identified by empirical research. The causation of a positive self-concept created by physical exercise is empirically supported by Sonstroem and Morgan’s (1988) exercise and self-esteem model (EXSEM). However, [...] Read more.
The association between physical activity in achieving mental health benefits and subjective well-being is consistently identified by empirical research. The causation of a positive self-concept created by physical exercise is empirically supported by Sonstroem and Morgan’s (1988) exercise and self-esteem model (EXSEM). However, various drawbacks of maintaining high self-esteem have been identified; thus, the concept of self-compassion was conjectured to be a form of “true self-esteem.” Hence, the current study aimed to investigate the relationship between physical activity and self-compassion by examining the exercise and self-esteem model revised with self-compassion (EXSEM-SC). This study recruited secondary school students from Hong Kong using convenience sampling. The structural equation modeling (SEM) approach, including path analysis and multiple indicators, multiple causes (MIMIC) modeling, were used to reveal the results of the study. The results (n = 1097) indicated that the relationship between physical activity and self-compassion could be demonstrated by the EXSEM-SC, with a satisfactory goodness-of-fit index in the SEMs. The SEM also demonstrated the direct paths from physical activity to self-compassion and mental well-being, indicating the significant effect of physical activity on self-compassion. Full article
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Article
Measuring Problematic Facebook Use among Adolescents and Young Adults with the Bergen Facebook Addiction Scale: A Psychometric Analysis by Applying Item Response Theory
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(6), 2979; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18062979 - 14 Mar 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1060
Abstract
The Bergen Facebook Addiction Scale (BFAS) is widely used, but psychometric evidence by applying Item Response Theory (IRT) is lacking. Considering the advantages of this psychometric approach, the aim of study was to investigate the psychometric properties of the Italian version of the [...] Read more.
The Bergen Facebook Addiction Scale (BFAS) is widely used, but psychometric evidence by applying Item Response Theory (IRT) is lacking. Considering the advantages of this psychometric approach, the aim of study was to investigate the psychometric properties of the Italian version of the BFAS among adolescents and young adults. Participants were 1134 (50% males, Mean age = 20.7, SD = 3.5, range = 14–33 years) Italian high school students and undergraduates. The unidimensionality of the scale was confirmed (χ2/df = 2.8, CFI = 0.99, TLI = 0.98, and RMSEA = 0.04 [C.I. = 0.02–0.06]) and IRT analysis showed that the scale assesses medium and high levels of the trait, and that it is useful in order to discriminate different levels of Problematic Facebook use (PFU) within this range of trait, in which the scale is sufficiently informative. The relationships of BFAS θ scores with theoretically related constructs provided support to the validity of the scale. In accordance with previous studies, BFAS scores were positively correlated with Problematic Internet use and problematic Social Network use, negatively correlated with self-esteem, and positively related to loneliness. The Differential Item Functioning (DIF) analysis showed that BFAS is invariant across gender, and only one item had uniform and small-in-size DIF. Additionally, we tested age invariance. Since only 17% of the BFAS items were non-invariant, we determined that the BFAS exhibited minor non-invariance as a whole. An analysis of the adequacy of the polythetic and monothetic criteria to define the range of the trait indicative of problematic use was also conducted. Overall, this study offers evidence that BFAS is a valuable and useful scale for measuring high levels of PFU among Italian adolescents and young adults. Full article
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Article
ASRS Questionnaire and Tobacco Use: Not Just a Cigarette. A Screening Study in an Italian Young Adult Sample
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(6), 2920; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18062920 - 12 Mar 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 824
Abstract
Young adults exhibit greater sensitivity than adults to nicotine reinforcement, and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) increases the risk for early-onset smoking. We investigated the correlation between ADHD Self-Report Scale (ASRS) scores and smoking, evaluated the prevalence of ADHD symptomatology (not diagnoses) in [...] Read more.
Young adults exhibit greater sensitivity than adults to nicotine reinforcement, and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) increases the risk for early-onset smoking. We investigated the correlation between ADHD Self-Report Scale (ASRS) scores and smoking, evaluated the prevalence of ADHD symptomatology (not diagnoses) in smokers and non-smokers and its comorbidity with benzodiazepine and gambling addictions. A total of 389 young adults from 14 schools in Northern Italy fill out a survey and the Adult ADHD Self-Report Scale (ASRS). A total of 15.2% of subjects tested positive at the ASRS, which correlated with smoking; moreover, smokers had twice the probability of testing positive at the ASRS. ADHD symptomatology, especially when comorbid with tobacco abuse, is an important condition to monitor because early nicotine exposure could be a gateway for other addictive behaviors. Full article
Article
Bullying and Cyberbullying among Italian Adolescents: The Influence of Psychosocial Factors on Violent Behaviours
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2021, 18(4), 1558; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph18041558 - 06 Feb 2021
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1837
Abstract
Background: The study of adolescents’ behaviours and attitudes is crucial to define interventions for the containment of deviance and social discomfort. New ways of social interaction are crystallising violent behaviours which are moving more than ever on a virtual sphere. Bullying and cyberbullying [...] Read more.
Background: The study of adolescents’ behaviours and attitudes is crucial to define interventions for the containment of deviance and social discomfort. New ways of social interaction are crystallising violent behaviours which are moving more than ever on a virtual sphere. Bullying and cyberbullying share a common behavioural matrix that has been outlined through specific environmental and individual characteristics. Methods: A survey carried out in Italy in 2019 on a statistical sample of 3273 students highlighted the influence of several social and individual variables on deviant phenomena. Risk and protective factors in relation to the probability of involvement in bullying and cyberbullying have been shown through a bivariate analysis and a binary logistic regression model. Results: The study shows that presence of stereotypes and social prejudices, tolerance to violence and high levels of self-esteem have resulted as the main risk factors. On the other hand, low levels of tolerance related to the consumption of alcohol and drugs, high levels of trust towards family and friends and being female have been identified as protective factors. Conclusions: This research confirms the validity of several theories on bullying and cyberbullying phenomena. Furthermore, it identifies specific risk and protective factors and their influence on deviant behaviours, with a focus on environmental characteristics which appear as the key field of work to enhance adolescents’ well-being. Full article
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