Addictive behaviours among university students in Malaysia during COVID-19 pandemic

Chuong Hock Ting

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Preventative measures to stop the spread of the COVID-19 have affected university students in an unprecedented manner. During the pandemic, their well-being and mental health are being shaped by online learning, home confinement, and uncertainty about their future. The overall aim of this study was to examine the frequency of three addictive-like behaviors (i.e., eating, social media, and online gaming) among university students, and their associations with mental health and self-regulation. This study was an online-based cross-sectional study involving 178 students from a public university in Sarawak. They were asked to complete a set of questionnaires that were used to measure substance, cigarette, and alcohol use, psychological distress, anxiety towards COVID-19, self-regulation, as well as food, online gaming, and social media addiction. There was a significant increment in the duration of time spent on online gaming and social media during the COVID-19 pandemic. The prevalence of substance use was low, with 3.9% and 12% of the students reported using cigarettes and alcohol, respectively in the last 30 days. Significant positive correlations were found between the three addictive-like behaviors (food, gaming, and social media addiction) and psychological distress. Significant negative correlations were found between self-regulation and the three addictive-like behaviors as well as psychological distress. Multidisciplinary efforts are needed to mitigate potential pre-existing and potential worsening addictive behaviors among university students during the COVID-19 pandemic and future pandemics and natural disasters. [Abstract copyright: © 2021 The Author(s).]
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)100375
JournalAddictive Behaviors Reports
Early online date4 Sep 2021
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 4 Sep 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • University students
  • COVID-19 pandemic
  • Addictive behaviors
  • Psychological distress

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