Psychometric Properties of the Problematic Internet Use Questionnaire Short-Form (PIUQ-SF-6) in a Nationally Representative Sample of Adolescents

Despite the large number of measurement tools developed to assess problematic Internet use, numerous studies use measures with only modest investigation into their psychometric properties. The goal of the present study was to validate the short (6-item) version of the Problematic Internet Use Questionnaire (PIUQ) on a nationally representative adolescent sample (n = 5,005; mean age 16.4 years, SD = 0.87) and to determine a statistically established cut-off value. Data were collected within the framework of the European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Other Drugs project. Results showed an acceptable fit of the original three-factor structure to the data. In addition, a MIMIC model was carried out to justify the need for three distinct factors. The sample was divided into users at-risk of problematic Internet use and those with no-risk using a latent profile analysis. Two latent classes were obtained with 14.4% of adolescents belonging to the at-risk group. Concurrent and convergent validity were tested by comparing the two groups across a number of variables (i.e., time spent online, academic achievement, self-esteem, depressive symptoms, and preferred online activities). Using the at-risk latent profile analysis class as the gold standard, a cut-off value of 15 (out of 30) was suggested based on sensitivity and specificity analyses. In conclusion, the brief version of the (6-item) PIUQ also appears to be an appropriate measure to differentiate between Internet users at risk of developing problematic Internet use and those not at risk. Furthermore, due to its brevity, the shortened PIUQ is advantageous to utilize within large-scale surveys assessing many different behaviors and/or constructs by reducing the overall number of survey questions, and as a consequence, likely increasing completion rates.