Research Scientist Boston Children's Hospital Boston Children's Hospital Department of Pediatrics Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Background: Prevalence of Problematic Interactive Media Use (PIMU)- disordered gaming, social media, pornography, and video-bingeing resulting in suboptimal social functioning, cognitive abilities, and mental wellness- is increasing. Utilizing standardized youth- and parent-report measures of behavioral health problems, we examined how PIMU patients differ from national norms and how patient and parent assessments compare.
Objective: Characterize dominant behavioral health problems in youth seeking clinical care for PIMU.
Design/Methods: PIMU patients at an urban adolescent clinic completed Self Report of Personality (SRP) and a parent completed Parent Rating Scales (PRS) of the Behavioral Assessment System for Children, 3rd Edition (BASC-3). BASC-3 has structured rating scales that provide response patterns across comprehensive emotions and behaviors including hyperactivity, anxiety, and externalizing/internalizing problems. PIMU patients’ standardized means were compared via Z-tests to general population and clinical sample norms. Paired t-tests compared scores of patients and parents.
Results: 86 adolescents (M=15.0yrs, SD=1.8) and 96 parents completed BASC-3. Compared to a general population, PIMU patients reported higher anxiety, depression, internalizing behavior problems, attention problems, functional impairment, and anger control (Figure 1). Compared to a clinical sample, however, they reported lower hyperactivity, somatization, atypicality, and functional impairment. Parents of PIMU patients rated their children’s behavioral health problems higher than the general population in 11/12 domains and higher than a clinical sample in 7/12 domains (Figure 2). PIMU patient and parent reports differed significantly for attention problems, depression, hyperactivity, anger control, and functional impairment, with parents reporting consistently poorer outcomes (Table 1). Conclusion(s): Parents of PIMU patients saw their children as having greater behavioral health problems than the general population in nearly all domains and more than half of the domains shared with a clinical sample of behavioral health patients. However, PIMU patients’ self-assessment showed that, while similar in most domains, their hyperactivity, somatization, atypicality and functional impairment were significantly lower than reported by the clinical sample. These findings are consistent with empirical observations that PIMU may be a manifestation of predisposing behavioral health problems and may represent self-soothing or distracting behaviors rather than a unique diagnosis.
Authors/Institutions: David Bickham, Boston Children's Hospital Department of Pediatrics, Boston, Massachusetts, United States; Summer Moukalled, Boston Children's Hospital Department of Pediatrics, Boston, Massachusetts, United States; Yajie Yu, Boston Children's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, United States; Michael Tsappis, Boston Children's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, United States; Michael Rich, Boston Children's Hospital Department of Pediatrics, Boston, Massachusetts, United States