Objective: Prolonged social withdrawal (PSW) or hikikomori and problematic internet use (PIU) have attracted the attention of mental health experts worldwide. The scientific literature suggests a complex relationship between these conditions and psychotic-like experiences (PLEs) or disorders. In the present cross-sectional study, we tested the role of PIU symptoms as a moderator of the relationship between symptoms of PSW and PLEs in a sample of 238 Italian emerging adults. Method: Data was collected using the 25-item Hikikomori Questionnaire, the Internet Disorder Scale, the Brief Prodromal Questionnaire, and the Brief Symptom Inventory. In addition, lifetime psychological disorders and drug and alcohol use during the last month were explored. No participant reported a lifetime episode of schizophrenia or other psychotic disorder. Results: Symptoms of PSW and PIU were significantly associated with PLEs total distress and PLEs total number of symptoms endorsed, after adjustment for age and symptoms of depression and anxiety. Further, PIU symptoms moderated the relationship between symptoms of PSW and PLEs total distress (b= 2.745, s.e.= 1.089, p= 0.012). However, PIU symptoms did not moderate the relationship between PSW and PLEs total symptoms (b= 0.615, s.e.= 0.349, p= 0.078). This study is limited because the participants were most likely university students and because of the cross-sectional design. Conclusions: Findings from this study partially support the role of high symptoms of PIU as a risk factor in the relationship between symptoms of PSW and PLEs. Future longitudinal research is needed to confirm our findings examining the temporal relationship between PSW, PIU, and PLEs using both dimensional and categorical approaches.
Symptoms of Prolonged Social Withdrawal, Problematic Internet Use, and Psychotic-Like Experiences in Emerging Adulthood: A Moderation Model / Amendola, Simone; Cerutti, Rita; Presaghi, Fabio. - In: CLINICAL NEUROPSYCHIATRY. - ISSN 2385-0787. - 20:1(2023), pp. 29-38. [10.36131/cnfioritieditore20230104]