There are a lot of people out there who believe that the internet has a lot of negative effects for youngsters. Now a new study has revealed that spending too much time on the internet increases the likelihood of suffering from various mental health problems. These health problems include executive functioning issues, anxiety, impulsiveness, ADHD, and inattention.
For the purpose of this research a total of 254 students participated in the study. The aim was to observe the effects the internet and social media had on individuals that were university-aged. The study was conducted by researchers from McMaster University in Canada. They made use of the Internet Addiction Test or IAT. This test was developed and has been in use since 1998. The researchers also made use of a new testing scale that they designed themselves for this study.
The chief researcher and a professor at McMaster University, Michael Van Ameringen, said that the results of the study showed that participants that ended up screening positive on their scale as well as on the IAT were more likely to experience trouble when trying to deal with daily activities. These activities included life at home, school, at work, and other social settings.
According to the results of the IAT used in the study, 33 participants were found to be suffering from internet addiction from a total of 254 students. Approximately 55.8% of them experienced difficulty when trying to control their habits related to video streaming. About 47.9% were unable to stop using social media. A total of 28.5% of students showed obsession with tools meant for instant messaging. However, coming to the results obtained from the new screening tool that the researchers developed, the number of students exhibiting internet addiction was three times more than what the IAT showed.
The chief researcher went on to say that over the past 18 years the use of internet has changed. This is mainly due to different social media platforms, video streaming, online jobs, and more. It was also added that the IAT was developed before use of smartphones became common among the public. That is why IAT may not be a reliable tool anymore. The said test might even produce false positive results when it comes to differentiating between people who are addicted to the internet and the ones who aren’t.
The new tool developed by researchers of this study is able to screen internet use in current times. Through the use of the new tool researchers were able to find out that 42.1% of the participants had issues linked to their mental health because they relied too much on the internet. The current results give rise to the need for further research in order to understand whether mental health issues are an effect or cause of being too dependent on available technology. There is also a need for an answer pertaining to if the actual number of individuals addicted to the internet has been overly underestimated.
For those of you wondering, the Illinois Institute of Addiction Recovery has shared warning signs of internet addiction. These sings include prolonged use and preoccupation with the internet, being unsuccessful when trying to reduce time spent using the internet, and making use of the internet and related technologies to avoid facing problems in your real-life. Emotional conditions related to internet addiction include feeling anxious, hopeless, depressed and guilty.
Large scale studies that cover more diverse groups need to be conducted. Further studies may also help in the creation of effective internet addiction treatment methods. The current study will be presented at the 29th annual European College of Neuropsychopharmacology Congress which is to be held in Vienna, Austria.