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Year : 2021  |  Volume : 37  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 248-253

Behavioral addiction among children and adolescents – A review of qualitative studies

Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Harshini Manohar
Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences, Bengaluru, Karnataka
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/ijsp.ijsp_220_21

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Background: With increasing accessibility to the virtual world, behavioral addiction is an emerging global concern among children and adolescents. Understanding attitudes and perceptions regarding behavioral addictions is critical to formulate appropriately tailored and meaningful interventions. This review aims to widen the scope of understanding behavioral addictions, by synthesizing findings from qualitative studies on perspectives, experiences, and key processes across the spectrum of behavioral addictions among children and adolescents. Methods: We conducted systematic search in PubMed and Google Scholar using keywords pertinent to qualitative research in behavioral addictions, adhering to enhancing transparency in reporting the synthesis of qualitative research guidelines. Eighteen studies were included after thorough screening of studies. We followed the analytical approach described by Petticrew and Roberts for thematic comparative synthesis. Results: There were five principal themes that articulate the experiential realities of children and adolescents in the context of behavioral addictions. They are (1) high-risk environment as a vulnerability: etiopathogenetic model for gambling, (2) attitudes toward behavioral addiction across the spectrum, (3) awareness, (4) perceived impact, and (5) perspectives and attitudes toward other's engagement in addictive behaviors. Conclusion: The findings have implications for public health policies such as promoting a supportive macrosystem while curtailing accessibility to activities and platforms of high addictive potentials. Future research in this area should include multiple stakeholder perspectives, perspectives of younger children and early adolescents, integration with quantitative findings, and studying the impact of particularly high-risk situations, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, to inform recommendations and policies, for comprehensive, multilevel, and multisystemic interventions.

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