Psychiatric Conditions May Predict Likelihood of Internet Addiction in Children and Adolescents

October 8, 2009

Children with certain psychiatric conditions, such as ADHD, social phobia, hostility, and depression, may be more likely to suffer from Internet addiction, show the results of a new study.

Children with certain psychiatric conditions, such as ADHD, social phobia, hostility, and depression, may be more likely to suffer from Internet addiction, show the results of a new study from Kaohsiung Medical University in Kaohsiung City, Taiwan.

Using the Chen Internet Addiction Scale (CIAS) to classify Internet addiction and self-reported psychiatric symptoms, lead author Chih-Hung Ko, MD, department of psychiatry, and colleagues found that 10.8% of study participants were classified as having Internet addiction. The most significant psychiatric predictors of Internet addiction in male and female adolescents were hostility and ADHD, respectively. In addition, though depression, ADHD, social phobia, and hostility predicted Internet addiction during a two-year follow-up, depression and social phobia were predictors of Internet addiction in female adolescents only.

The researchers surveyed 2,293 seventh-graders (1,179 boys and 1,114 girls) from 10 junior high schools in Taiwan. Internet addiction as classified by CIAS was taken at study baseline and again at 6, 12, and 24 months, with scores that ranged from 26 to 104. Adolescents that received a score of 64 or higher were considered to have Internet addiction.

"These results suggest that ADHD, hostility, depression and social phobia should be detected early on and intervention carried out to prevent Internet addiction in adolescents," said the researchers. "Also, sex differences in psychiatric comorbidity should be taken into consideration when developing prevention and intervention strategies for Internet addiction."

Findings of the study were also published in Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.