This cross-sectional study aimed to explore specific online behaviours and their association with a range of underlying psychological and other behavioural factors during the COVID-19 pandemic. Eight countries (Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom, Lithuania, Portugal, Japan, Hungary, and Brazil) participated in an international investigation involving 2223 participants (M = 33 years old; SD = 11), 70% of whom were females. Participants were surveyed for specific type of Internet use severity, appearance anxiety, self-compassion, and image and use of performance-enhancing drugs (IPEDs). Results were compared cross-culturally. The mean time spent online was 5 h (SD = ±3) of daily browsing during the pandemic. The most commonly performed activities included social networking, streaming, and general surfing. A strong association between these online behaviours and appearance anxiety, self-compassion, and IPEDs use was found after adjustment for possible confounders, with higher scores being associated with specific online activities. Significant cross-cultural differences also emerged in terms of the amount of time spent online during the initial stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- problematic usage of the Internet
- appearance anxiety
- COVID-19 pandemic
- mental illness