J Med Internet Res. 2022 Jul 27;24(7):e31803. doi: 10.2196/31803.
BACKGROUND: Screen use is part of daily life worldwide and morbidity related to excess use of screens has been reported. Some use of screens in excess could indicate a screen use disorder (ScUD). An integrative approach to ScUD could better fit the polymodal reality of screens, and concurrent problems with screens, than a split approach, activity by activity. In that paradigm, a pragmatic and operationalized approach to study a potential ScUD requires the use of common criteria, for all screens and activities done on screens, in a single questionnaire.
OBJECTIVE: Our goals were (1) to describe screen uses in a general population sample and (2) to test the unidimensionality, local independence, and psychometric properties of the 9 Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (DSM-5) internet gaming disorder (IGD) criteria adapted to screen use in a community sample. We hypothesized that the 9 DSM-5 IGD criteria adapted to ScUD would show unidimensionality, local independence, and good discrimination, with criteria distributed on the severity continuum.
METHODS: This cross-sectional survey in a French suburban city targeted adults and adolescents. A self-administered questionnaire covered the main types of screens used and their use for various activities in the past month. Presence of ScUD diagnostic criteria in past 12 months was also self-evaluated in the questionnaire. Factor and 2-parameter Item Response Theory analysis were used to investigate the dimensionality, local independence, and psychometric properties of the ScUD criteria.
RESULTS: Among the 300 participants, 171 (57.0%) were female (mean age 27 years), 297 (99.0%) used screens, 134 (44.7%) reported at least one criterion (potential problem users), and 5 (1.7%) reported 5 or more criteria and endorsed an ScUD. The most endorsed criteria were loss of control (60/300, 20.0%) and preoccupation (52/300, 17.3%). Screen types used and screen activities differed between participants with no ScUD criteria and those with at least one ScUD criterion. The latter were more likely to have a computer as the most used screen type, and more video gaming, communication/social network, and watching news and research of information as activities. Unidimensionality was confirmed by all fit indices. Local independence was confirmed by the absence of residual correlation between the items. Criteria had relatively high factor loading, with loss of interest in other recreational activities having the highest. However, criteria with the lowest factor loading all remained above the cut-offs, sanctioning unidimensionality. Most discriminating criteria were loss of interests, preoccupation, deceive/cover up, and risk/lose relationship/opportunities, which also provided the most information on the measurement of the latent trait.
CONCLUSIONS: We described screen uses in a French community sample and have shown that the adaptation of the DSM-5 IGD to “ScUD” has good psychometric validity and is discriminating, confirming our hypothesis. We suggest to use those criteria to assess potential “ScUD.” Further studies should determine if all criteria are needed and whether others should be added.