The gender-sensitive social risk factors for internet addiction in college undergraduate students

Xia Lin (Corresponding Author), Jing Yan Gu, Wan Jun Guo, Ya Jing Meng, Hui Yao Wang, Xiao Jing Li, Wei Deng, Lian Sheng Zhao, Xiao Hong Ma, Ming Li Li, Ting Chen, Andy S.K. Cheng, Tao Li

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Objective The current study aims to explore precipitating and social risk factors for internet addiction (IA) in university undergraduate students, and to provide evidence for interventions and the early prevention of IA in different genders. Methods Four thousand eight hundred and fifty-eight college sophomores completed an online survey on their internet use-related behaviours and social risk factors. Results We found that more male (8.3%) than female students (5.4%) had moderate and severe IA. The main online activity in the moderate and severe IA groups was online gaming in males and online streaming in females. Roommates engaging in similar internet-based entertainment was a risk factor of IA only for males, while not being in a romantic relationship was a risk factor of IA for females only. Infatuation with the internet before college and adjustment problems for college life were shared risk factors for both genders in the mild and moderate IA groups. Conclusion IA was a common phenomenon in college students with shared and unique precipitating and social risk factors in males and females. The gender-sensitive risk factors for IA warranted earlier and individualized intervention and prevention strategies for IA in this population.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)636-644
Number of pages9
JournalPsychiatry Investigation
Issue number7
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 Jul 2021


  • College students
  • Cross-sectional survey
  • Gender
  • Internet addiction
  • Risk factors

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry

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