Problematic use of the internet in low- and middle-income countries before and during the COVID-19 pandemic: A scoping review
Potenza, Marc N.
Sales, Célia M.D.
People from low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) represent large portions of the world population, often occupy less favorable living conditions, and typically suffer greater health risks, yet frequently receive little research and global health attention. The present study reviews emerging evidence on problematic use of the Internet (PUI) in LMICs prior/during the COVID-19 pandemic. Analyzed studies mainly focused on general properties of PUI in university students, problematic gaming in youth, or problematic use of social media in adults, registering higher prevalence estimates, as compared with earlier reports. Research mainly focused on initially affected regions and COVID-exposed populations. Overall, unfavorable circumstances, including poor social support, family relationships, and lifestyle tendencies/habits, may present potential risk for PUI in LMICs, likely exacerbated during the pandemic.