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Excessive use of WeChat, social interaction and locus of control among college students in China

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In China, the number of college students using mobile phone based messaging and social networking applications like WeChat is increasing rapidly. However, there has been minimal research into the addictive nature of these applications and the psychological characteristics associate with their excessive use. There is also no published scale available for assessing excessive use of WeChat and similar applications. In the current study, we collected data from 1,245 college students in China (715 females) and developed the WeChat Excessive Use Scale (WEUS). We then assessed the relationship between excessive use of WeChat and excessive use of a social networking application-Weibo, problematic use of mobile phones, external locus of control, and social interaction skills. Our 10-item scale featured three factors, namely- “mood modification,” “salience” and ‘‘conflict”- critical factors in assessing different forms of addiction. The WEUS was found to be a reliable instrument in assessing excessive use of WeChat as it showed good internal consistency and correlated with other measures of problematic use social networking and mobile phone addiction. Our results showed that excessive users of WeChat are more likely to excessively use Weibo than they are to problematically use mobile phones. Our study also showed that greater excessive use of WeChat is associated with higher external locus of control and greater online social interaction skills. These results reveal that WeChat has unique and strong appeal among college students in China. Further, practitioners should consider dealing with malleable factors like locus of control and real life social skills in treating people with problematic messaging and social networking.




Hou, J., Ndasauka, Y., Jiang, Y., Ye, Z., Wang, Y., Yang, L., … Zhang, X. (2017). Excessive use of WeChat, social interaction and locus of control among college students in China. PLoS ONE, 12(8).

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