Prevalence and correlates of problematic online gaming and online social networking addiction and their linkage to sleep disturbance and mental health problems among Hong Kong adolescents

Grant Data
Project Title
Prevalence and correlates of problematic online gaming and online social networking addiction and their linkage to sleep disturbance and mental health problems among Hong Kong adolescents
Principal Investigator
Dr Wang, Chongwen   (Principal investigator)
Dr Wong Paul Wai Ching   (Co-Investigator)
Dr Chan Jessie Suet Mui   (Co-Investigator)
Dr Law Yik Wa   (Co-Investigator)
Professor Ho Rainbow Tin Hung   (Co-Investigator)
Professor Chan Cecilia Lai Wan   (Co-Investigator)
Start Date
Completion Date
Conference Title
Presentation Title
depression, anxiety, internet addiction, online gaming, social networking
Psychosocial and Behavioural Research,Psychology
Block Grant Earmarked for Research (104)
HKU Project Code
Grant Type
Small Project Funding
Funding Year
Addictive behavior to the internet is becoming a serious problem worldwide, especially among adolescents who are not mature enough for the virtual world (Shek and Yu 2012). Their capacity for self-regulation is limited and their susceptibility to peer pressure also put them at risk to problematic behaviors (O'Keeffe, Clarke-Pearson et al. 2011). Moreover, adolescents usually experience dramatic changes in their physical body and psychological development; they may develop more serious problems in health than other age-groups of people if they engage in addictive behaviors (Wang, Zhou et al. 2011). With the popularity of high-tech devices such as smartphones and palm computers in recent years, which make it possible to access the internet anywhere and anytime, internet addiction among adolescents may be emerging because they may have unfettered, unsupervised access to the internet and independent control of their time (Christakis, Moreno et al. 2011). For youthful internet users, the most popular internet-related activity may be playing online games, which has attracted large numbers of players. People usually play online games for entertainment and leisure, excitement and challenge seeking, emotional coping, and escaping from reality (Wan and Chiou 2006). Online games also provide people with a virtual space for unsatisfying needs or motivations in their real life (Wan and Chiou 2006). Consequently, online gaming has become one of the most popular online activities. However, excessive play of online games can result in a number of negative outcomes, such as poor academic performance, insomnia, anxiety and depressive symptoms, deteriorated interpersonal relationship, family conflicts, and youth violence or crimes (Wan and Chiou 2006). In recent years, online social networking sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, and MySpace, have been popularly welcome by young people. These web-based services provide internet users with virtual communities where people can create individual public or semi-public profiles, interact with peers, share information and pictures, and meet others based on shared interests (Kuss and Griffiths 2011). However, frequent use of online social networking services may also be associated with certain behavioral changes. Concerns have been raised about its possible negative effect on mental health, especially those issues related to the pattern and quality of social interactions (Pantic, Damjanovic et al. 2012) Although many studies have documented internet addiction in general among adolescents in past years (Ha, Kim et al. 2007; Shek, Tang et al. 2008; Lam, Peng et al. 2009; Zhou, Tang et al. 2009; Fu, Chan et al. 2010; Wang, Zhou et al. 2011; Shek and Yu 2012; Smahel, Brown et al. 2012), studies on problematic online gaming and online social networking addiction among adolescents are still limited and no local studies can be identified in the literature, possibly due to lack of valid measures in these fields. There are a number of online activities, including social networking and gaming, which can be addicted by users. Different online activities are generally preferred by different users. Without a good understanding of particular internet-related activities that may be addicted by adolescents, it will be difficult to tailor effective interventional or educational programs to treat or prevent internet addiction. In this year, two instruments - the Problematic Online Gaming Questionnaire (Demetrovics, Urban et al. 2012) and the Facebook Addiction Scale (Andreassen, Torsheim et al. 2012) – have been developed, which may provide us valid tools to examine online gaming problem and online social networking problem. To better understand internet-related behaviors and their linkage to mental health problems, empirical studies in different socio-cultural texts are needed. Moreover, previous studies on internet addiction were generally conducted at the time when internet was mainly accessed via computers for most participants, and the reported data varied greatly across different studies and across different areas of the world. Only in recent years are such devices as iphone widely used among adolescents, which make it very easy for them to play online games and visit online social networking sites. The current profile of internet addiction including problematic online gaming and online social networking addiction among adolescents are unclear. Thus, this study aims to investigate: 1) psychometric properties of the Problematic Online Gaming Questionnaire and the Facebook Addiction Scale in a sample of Hong Kong adolescents; 2) prevalence and predictive factors of problematic online gaming and online social networking addiction among Hong Kong adolescents; 3) relationship between problematic online gaming, online social networking addiction, and mental health outcomes among adolescents.