Underlying Psychopathologies May Be Root of Internet Addiction
HealthDay News — Internet addiction may signal other mental health issues among college students, according to a new study presented at the annual meeting of the European College of Neuropsychopharmacology, held from September 17 to 20 in Vienna.
Michael Van Ameringen, MD, from McMaster University in Hamilton, Canada, and colleagues evaluated the internet use of 254 freshmen at McMaster. The researchers used a tool called the Internet Addiction Test, developed in 1998, as well as their own scale based on more recent criteria. With the new screening tool, 33 students met criteria for internet addiction, and 107 for problematic internet use. Students' mental health, including signs of impulsiveness, depression, anxiety, and stress, was also assessed.
The researchers found that most of those addicted to the internet had trouble controlling their use of video streaming as well as social networking sites and instant messaging tools. They had more trouble handling their daily routines and higher rates of depression, anxiety, impulsiveness, and inattention. They also had problems with planning and time management, the researchers found.
"This may have practical medical implications. If you are trying to treat someone for an addiction when in fact they are anxious or depressed, then you may be going down the wrong route," Van Ameringen said in an ECNP news release. "We need to understand this more, so we need a bigger sample, drawn from a wider, more varied population."