Positive youth development attributes, mental disorder, and problematic online behaviors in adolescents: a longitudinal study amidst the COVID-19 pandemic

Frontiers in Public Health 11:1133696 (2023)
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Abstract

Introduction: During the COVID-19 pandemic, adolescents have increasingly suffered from online problem behaviors and mental disorders. But little research has paid attention to the protective factors among adolescents. Therefore, the present study attempted to investigate the role of positive youth development (PYD) attributes in adolescents’ depression, internet gaming disorder (IGD) and cyberbullying/victimization (CBV). Methods: A total of 995 Chinese adolescents (Mage = 15.97 years, SD = 0.77, 325 boys) from two public high schools in Hubei province were recruited to participate in the three-wave longitudinal study over the span of 1 year during the pandemic (Time 1: November, 2020; Time 2: May, 2021; Time 3: November, 2021). Results: T1 PYD attributes negatively predicted T2 depression and T3 online problematic behaviors. T2 depression positively predicted IGD at T3. T3 IGD significantly predicted greater involvement in T3 CBV, and vice versa. Moreover, depression and one online problem behavior mediated the relationships between PYD attributes and the other online problem behavior, separately and sequentially.

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Xin Jin
NanJing University

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