Introduction: Globally, more people are spending time on the Internet and gaming since the outbreak of the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). Consequently, concerns about developing behavioral addiction of adolescents have been raised. Such risk could be greater for adolescents in South Korea where the majority of adolescents have access to the Internet and own a smartphone. In fact, statistics indicate that Korean youths are spending significantly more time on the Internet and gaming during the COVID-19 pandemic. Previous studies on the patterns of time spent on the Internet and Internet gaming show inconsistent results. The aim of this study is to investigate the latent profiles of the Internet and Internet game usage among adolescents in South Korea. Method: Data from a national survey on elementary and middle school students across South Korea were used. The sample consists of 3,149 respondents, and 2,984 responses were analyzed after removing missing responses. Latent profile analysis was performed to investigate the number of latent profiles for the Internet and Internet game usage time. To validate the profiles, differences in problematic gaming behavior, sex, and neuroticism were examined. Results: Seven profiles were found: Casual User, Moderate User, Smartphone User, Internet User, PC Internet Gamer, Heavy User, and Excessive User. Validation of the profiles indicated differences in problematic gaming behavior, sex, and neuroticism among selected profiles. Conclusion: This study presented different profiles of the Internet and Internet game usage among adolescents in South Korea. Profiles with higher game usage time scored higher in problematic game use compared to other profiles. Males were more likely to be in the profiles with high gaming time, and females were more likely to be in Internet and Smartphone User profiles. The results indicate that Internet and Internet gaming usage patterns could be classified by the type of device used and the content of the Internet.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
This work was supported by the Ministry of Education of Republic of Korea and the National Research Foundation of Korea (NRF-2020S1A3A2A02103411).
© Copyright © 2021 Kim, Lee and Nam.
- Internet addiction
- Internet gaming
- South Korea
- mental health