Problematic internet use as youth’s risky behavior under distance learning during the Covid-19 pandemic

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V.R. Kuchma1,2, A.Yu. Makarova1, E.V. Naryshkina1, N.L. Yamschikova1, A.Yu. Brazhnikov1, A.A. Fedorinin1, E.D. Laponova1, N.N. Demina1


1I.M. Sechenov First Moscow State Medical University (Sechenov University), bldg. 2, 8 Trubetskaya Str., 119048, Moscow, Russian Federation
2Federal Scientific Center of Hygiene named after F.F. Erisman, 2 Semashko Str., 141014, Mytishchi, Moscow region of the Russian Federation


We selected Problematic Internet Use (PIU) as our research object. PIU is a behavioral addiction or a type of addictive behavior that can have negative influence on users’ emotional and social functioning. In our case, these users were students who had to learn distantly.

The aim of this pilot study was to estimate use of the Internet by students and associated risks by performing the validated screening (Problematic Internet Use – PIU). The first stage was accomplished under routine full-time education; the second stage took place during the COVID-19 pandemic under the forced lockdown in the spring term 2020.

Medical students who participated in this pilot study were asked to estimate how much time they spent using the Internet on their mobile devices or PC and to report risks associated with problematic Internet use, both under ordinary circumstances and under forced self-isolation during the COVID-19 pandemic. We applied Problematic and Risky Internet Use Screening – PRIUSS, Midwestern University, USA, both paper version and Google survey, to question the participants. Overall, 230 students took part at the first stage of the survey; one year after there were 90 students participating in the survey.

The research results show it is truly vital to examine risky behavior since it can pose certain threats for young students’ health due to growing volumes and shares of information obtained from information network channels and Internet resources. In addition, we established an increasing share of risky behavior when using the Internet under restrictions associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. There was a substantial growth in the number of students exposed to the intensive Internet use. The scores as per the subscales “social disorders” and “emotional disorders” grew by 2.7 and 2.1 times accordingly. The score describing risky/impulsive Internet use went up from 7.8 to 16.3. All the differences were statistically significant (р < 0.001).

preventive medicine, distance learning, COVID-19, students, risks of Internet use, behavioral addictions, Internet use screening, public health
Kuchma V.R., Makarova A.Yu., Naryshkina E.V., Yamschikova N.L., Brazhnikov A.Yu., Fedorinin A.A., Laponova E.D., Demina N.N. Problematic internet use as youth’s risky behavior under distance learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. Health risk Analysis, 2022, no. 3, pp. 63–71. DOI: 10.21668/health.risk/2022.3.05.eng
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