The Relationship Between Hikikomori Risk and Internet Use During COVID-19 Restrictions

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11 Citations (SciVal)


This study explores the phenomenon of hikikomori, or extreme social isolation, which for the past 20 years has been associated with a range of negative outcomes, including psychological, financial, and social. As hikikomori is associated with marked social withdrawal in one's home and increased Internet use, it has been suggested that the social and technological changes brought about by COVID-19 restrictions may exacerbate the risk of hikikomori in young adults. This study, therefore, sought to identify the relationship between hikikomori risk and changes in Internet use for young people aged 16-24 years during COVID-19 restrictions. An international sample of 826 participants completed an online survey consisting of questions about demographics, experience of lockdown restrictions in the previous 12 months, changes to Internet use in the previous 12 months and a hikikomori risk scale. Higher hikikomori risk was associated with being male, greater time spent in lockdown, and leaving the house less frequently. An increase in Internet use during lockdown was associated with reduced risk of hikikomori. Findings are discussed in relation to gender differences in the type of Internet use engaged in by males and females. It is concluded that online social interaction may be a means of mitigating hikikomori risk in post-COVID-19 societies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)189-193
Number of pages5
JournalCyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking
Issue number3
Early online date12 Jan 2022
Publication statusPublished - 16 Mar 2022


  • COVID-19
  • hikikomori
  • Internet use
  • lockdown
  • social media
  • social withdrawal

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Communication
  • Applied Psychology
  • Human-Computer Interaction
  • Computer Science Applications


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