Exploring the extent of the hikikomori phenomenon on twitter

Mixed methods study of western language tweets

Victor Pereira-Sanchez, Miguel Angel Alvarez-Mon, Angel Asunsolo Del Barco, Melchor Alvarez-Mon, Alan Teo

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

Background: Hikikomori is a severe form of social withdrawal, originally described in Japan but recently reported in other countries. Debate exists as to what extent hikikomori is viewed as a problem outside of the Japanese context. Objective: We aimed to explore perceptions about hikikomori outside Japan by analyzing Western language content from the popular social media platform, Twitter. Methods: We conducted a mixed methods analysis of all publicly available tweets using the hashtag #hikikomori between February 1 and August 16, 2018, in 5 Western languages (Catalan, English, French, Italian, and Spanish). Tweets were first classified as to whether they described hikikomori as a problem or a nonproblematic phenomenon. Tweets regarding hikikomori as a problem were then subclassified in terms of the type of problem (medical, social, or anecdotal) they referred to, and we marked if they referenced scientific publications or the presence of hikikomori in countries other than Japan. We also examined measures of interest in content related to hikikomori, including retweets, likes, and associated hashtags. Results: A total of 1042 tweets used #hikikomori, and 656 (62.3%) were included in the content analysis. Most of the included tweets were written in English (44.20%) and Italian (34.16%), and a majority (56.70%) discussed hikikomori as a problem. Tweets referencing scientific publications (3.96%) and hikikomori as present in countries other than Japan (13.57%) were less common. Tweets mentioning hikikomori outside Japan were statistically more likely to be retweeted (P=.01) and liked (P=.01) than those not mentioning it, whereas tweets with explicit scientific references were statistically more retweeted (P=.01) but not liked (P=.10) than those without that reference. Retweet and like figures were not statistically significantly different among other categories and subcategories. The most associated hashtags included references to Japan, mental health, and the youth. Conclusions: Hikikomori is a repeated word in non-Japanese Western languages on Twitter, suggesting the presence of hikikomori in countries outside Japan. Most tweets treat hikikomori as a problem, but the ways they post about it are highly heterogeneous.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere14167
JournalJournal of medical Internet research
Volume21
Issue number5
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2019

Fingerprint

Japan
Language
Publications
Social Media
Social Problems
Mental Health

Keywords

  • Hidden youth
  • Hikikomori
  • Loneliness
  • Social isolation
  • Social media
  • Social withdrawal
  • Twitter

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health Informatics

Cite this

Exploring the extent of the hikikomori phenomenon on twitter : Mixed methods study of western language tweets. / Pereira-Sanchez, Victor; Alvarez-Mon, Miguel Angel; Del Barco, Angel Asunsolo; Alvarez-Mon, Melchor; Teo, Alan.

In: Journal of medical Internet research, Vol. 21, No. 5, e14167, 01.05.2019.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Pereira-Sanchez, Victor ; Alvarez-Mon, Miguel Angel ; Del Barco, Angel Asunsolo ; Alvarez-Mon, Melchor ; Teo, Alan. / Exploring the extent of the hikikomori phenomenon on twitter : Mixed methods study of western language tweets. In: Journal of medical Internet research. 2019 ; Vol. 21, No. 5.
@article{95e8d224b81a48ba8f8ec65d9ad5bab6,
title = "Exploring the extent of the hikikomori phenomenon on twitter: Mixed methods study of western language tweets",
abstract = "Background: Hikikomori is a severe form of social withdrawal, originally described in Japan but recently reported in other countries. Debate exists as to what extent hikikomori is viewed as a problem outside of the Japanese context. Objective: We aimed to explore perceptions about hikikomori outside Japan by analyzing Western language content from the popular social media platform, Twitter. Methods: We conducted a mixed methods analysis of all publicly available tweets using the hashtag #hikikomori between February 1 and August 16, 2018, in 5 Western languages (Catalan, English, French, Italian, and Spanish). Tweets were first classified as to whether they described hikikomori as a problem or a nonproblematic phenomenon. Tweets regarding hikikomori as a problem were then subclassified in terms of the type of problem (medical, social, or anecdotal) they referred to, and we marked if they referenced scientific publications or the presence of hikikomori in countries other than Japan. We also examined measures of interest in content related to hikikomori, including retweets, likes, and associated hashtags. Results: A total of 1042 tweets used #hikikomori, and 656 (62.3{\%}) were included in the content analysis. Most of the included tweets were written in English (44.20{\%}) and Italian (34.16{\%}), and a majority (56.70{\%}) discussed hikikomori as a problem. Tweets referencing scientific publications (3.96{\%}) and hikikomori as present in countries other than Japan (13.57{\%}) were less common. Tweets mentioning hikikomori outside Japan were statistically more likely to be retweeted (P=.01) and liked (P=.01) than those not mentioning it, whereas tweets with explicit scientific references were statistically more retweeted (P=.01) but not liked (P=.10) than those without that reference. Retweet and like figures were not statistically significantly different among other categories and subcategories. The most associated hashtags included references to Japan, mental health, and the youth. Conclusions: Hikikomori is a repeated word in non-Japanese Western languages on Twitter, suggesting the presence of hikikomori in countries outside Japan. Most tweets treat hikikomori as a problem, but the ways they post about it are highly heterogeneous.",
keywords = "Hidden youth, Hikikomori, Loneliness, Social isolation, Social media, Social withdrawal, Twitter",
author = "Victor Pereira-Sanchez and Alvarez-Mon, {Miguel Angel} and {Del Barco}, {Angel Asunsolo} and Melchor Alvarez-Mon and Alan Teo",
year = "2019",
month = "5",
day = "1",
doi = "10.2196/14167",
language = "English (US)",
volume = "21",
journal = "Journal of Medical Internet Research",
issn = "1439-4456",
publisher = "Journal of medical Internet Research",
number = "5",

}

TY - JOUR

T1 - Exploring the extent of the hikikomori phenomenon on twitter

T2 - Mixed methods study of western language tweets

AU - Pereira-Sanchez, Victor

AU - Alvarez-Mon, Miguel Angel

AU - Del Barco, Angel Asunsolo

AU - Alvarez-Mon, Melchor

AU - Teo, Alan

PY - 2019/5/1

Y1 - 2019/5/1

N2 - Background: Hikikomori is a severe form of social withdrawal, originally described in Japan but recently reported in other countries. Debate exists as to what extent hikikomori is viewed as a problem outside of the Japanese context. Objective: We aimed to explore perceptions about hikikomori outside Japan by analyzing Western language content from the popular social media platform, Twitter. Methods: We conducted a mixed methods analysis of all publicly available tweets using the hashtag #hikikomori between February 1 and August 16, 2018, in 5 Western languages (Catalan, English, French, Italian, and Spanish). Tweets were first classified as to whether they described hikikomori as a problem or a nonproblematic phenomenon. Tweets regarding hikikomori as a problem were then subclassified in terms of the type of problem (medical, social, or anecdotal) they referred to, and we marked if they referenced scientific publications or the presence of hikikomori in countries other than Japan. We also examined measures of interest in content related to hikikomori, including retweets, likes, and associated hashtags. Results: A total of 1042 tweets used #hikikomori, and 656 (62.3%) were included in the content analysis. Most of the included tweets were written in English (44.20%) and Italian (34.16%), and a majority (56.70%) discussed hikikomori as a problem. Tweets referencing scientific publications (3.96%) and hikikomori as present in countries other than Japan (13.57%) were less common. Tweets mentioning hikikomori outside Japan were statistically more likely to be retweeted (P=.01) and liked (P=.01) than those not mentioning it, whereas tweets with explicit scientific references were statistically more retweeted (P=.01) but not liked (P=.10) than those without that reference. Retweet and like figures were not statistically significantly different among other categories and subcategories. The most associated hashtags included references to Japan, mental health, and the youth. Conclusions: Hikikomori is a repeated word in non-Japanese Western languages on Twitter, suggesting the presence of hikikomori in countries outside Japan. Most tweets treat hikikomori as a problem, but the ways they post about it are highly heterogeneous.

AB - Background: Hikikomori is a severe form of social withdrawal, originally described in Japan but recently reported in other countries. Debate exists as to what extent hikikomori is viewed as a problem outside of the Japanese context. Objective: We aimed to explore perceptions about hikikomori outside Japan by analyzing Western language content from the popular social media platform, Twitter. Methods: We conducted a mixed methods analysis of all publicly available tweets using the hashtag #hikikomori between February 1 and August 16, 2018, in 5 Western languages (Catalan, English, French, Italian, and Spanish). Tweets were first classified as to whether they described hikikomori as a problem or a nonproblematic phenomenon. Tweets regarding hikikomori as a problem were then subclassified in terms of the type of problem (medical, social, or anecdotal) they referred to, and we marked if they referenced scientific publications or the presence of hikikomori in countries other than Japan. We also examined measures of interest in content related to hikikomori, including retweets, likes, and associated hashtags. Results: A total of 1042 tweets used #hikikomori, and 656 (62.3%) were included in the content analysis. Most of the included tweets were written in English (44.20%) and Italian (34.16%), and a majority (56.70%) discussed hikikomori as a problem. Tweets referencing scientific publications (3.96%) and hikikomori as present in countries other than Japan (13.57%) were less common. Tweets mentioning hikikomori outside Japan were statistically more likely to be retweeted (P=.01) and liked (P=.01) than those not mentioning it, whereas tweets with explicit scientific references were statistically more retweeted (P=.01) but not liked (P=.10) than those without that reference. Retweet and like figures were not statistically significantly different among other categories and subcategories. The most associated hashtags included references to Japan, mental health, and the youth. Conclusions: Hikikomori is a repeated word in non-Japanese Western languages on Twitter, suggesting the presence of hikikomori in countries outside Japan. Most tweets treat hikikomori as a problem, but the ways they post about it are highly heterogeneous.

KW - Hidden youth

KW - Hikikomori

KW - Loneliness

KW - Social isolation

KW - Social media

KW - Social withdrawal

KW - Twitter

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/record.url?scp=85067211574&partnerID=8YFLogxK

UR - http://www.scopus.com/inward/citedby.url?scp=85067211574&partnerID=8YFLogxK

U2 - 10.2196/14167

DO - 10.2196/14167

M3 - Article

VL - 21

JO - Journal of Medical Internet Research

JF - Journal of Medical Internet Research

SN - 1439-4456

IS - 5

M1 - e14167

ER -