Internet Addiction May Indicate Other Mental Health Issues

Man using multiple devices at onceNew research suggests internet addiction might be an early warning sign for additional mental health conditions. Participants in the study who demonstrated an addiction to the internet had higher rates of both depression and anxiety.

A University of Hong Kong study in 2014 estimated as many as 420 million people worldwide experience some level of internet addiction, amounting to about 8% of the approximately 5.2 billion people who are able to access the internet.

Studying Internet Addiction in College Students

Researchers from McMaster University in Ontario compared internet usage among 254 freshmen students. They used the 1998 Internet Addiction Test along with new models that reflected recent changes in technology. This helped incorporate data from online activities such as video streaming, instant messaging, and social media more accurately.

Of the 254 students examined, 33 (13%) met the criteria set for an online addiction, with nearly half the remaining 221 identified as having problematic use rates.

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Those whose usage rose to the level of addiction were shown to have difficulties in areas such as attentiveness, time management, impulse control, and stress levels, especially when using social networking sites or streaming video. They also displayed significantly higher rates of depression and anxiety symptoms.

Internet Addiction Research May Be Lacking

The study’s authors say internet addiction in general may be understudied and underestimated. Without further research, they are not sure whether the association found between excessive internet use and mental health conditions is causal. A larger study is needed to determine if internet addiction causes mental health issues or if internet addiction is a result of mental health issues. Any of these concerns may be simpler to treat once researchers better understand any underlying causes.

References:

  1. Cheng, C., & Li, A. Y. (2014, December 9). Internet addiction prevalence and quality of (real) life: A meta-analysis of 31 nations across seven world regions. Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 17(12), 755-760. doi:10.1089/cyber.2014.0317
  2. Dallas, M. (2016, September 18). Internet addiction may be red flag for other mental health issues: Study. Retrieved from http://health.usnews.com/health-care/articles/2016-09-18/internet-addiction-may-be-red-flag-for-other-mental-health-issues-study
  3. Kosoff, M. (2014, December 20). Study: 420 million people around the world are addicted to the internet. Retrieved from http://www.businessinsider.com/420-million-people-are-addicted-to-the-internet-study-2014-12
  4. McMaster University. (2016, September 19). Internet addiction may signal other mental health problems. Retrieved from http://fhs.mcmaster.ca/main/news/news_2016/Internet_addiction_mental_health.html

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  • 5 comments
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  • Rory22

    September 22nd, 2016 at 2:18 PM

    Then we are all guilty because from where I sit it looks like everyone in this world pays more attention to their phones than they do to each other! And you know that they are buried online while they are doing it.

  • Yalinda

    September 23rd, 2016 at 3:15 PM

    We are being drawn in and suckered by everything that we see online and it does at times make it harder and harder to disconnect from all of that.

  • Tim

    September 25th, 2016 at 7:51 AM

    Most of the time those who are addicted are going to be the ones who will most likely deny the activity. They will say, like any other addict, that it isn’t a problem, that they can stop any time that they want to, knowing that stopping is always going to be far more difficult than what they have anticipated that it will be.

  • ferris

    September 26th, 2016 at 9:18 AM

    are there age groups where this is more prevalent than others?

  • Sam

    September 27th, 2016 at 3:47 PM

    We are starting to see a pattern here that most things do not exist within a vacuum there are usually other factors that can lead to other things and we can’t just stop at the first one as the chances are high there is likely to be something else too

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