Prevalence and Correlates of Internet Addiction in Undergraduate Students: Assessing with Two Major Measures

Prevalence and Correlates of Internet Addiction in Undergraduate Students: Assessing with Two Major Measures

Daniel Schoenfeld (Bennington College, USA) and Zheng Yan (University of Albany State University of New York, USA)
Copyright: © 2012 |Pages: 19
DOI: 10.4018/ijcbpl.2012040102
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This study determined if two different internet addiction assessments would identify the same individuals as addicted to the internet. A total of 224 undergraduate internet users were surveyed using a stratified sampling plan based on the proportional allocation technique to procure as diverse a sample as possible. The assessments used were Young’s Internet Addiction Test (IAT), Caplan’s Generalized Problematic Internet Use Scale (GPIUS), a demographic questionnaire, and a reasons-for-use questionnaire. Results showed that about 0.9% of the sample could be considered addicted to the internet according to both the IAT and GPIUS, which is a smaller percentage than found in previous studies. There were too few participants identified as addicted to the internet to determine if these two assessments identified the same individuals as addicted; however, over a third of the sample was identified as “at risk” for addiction by one assessment and not the other. These results show that the assessment measure used is of extreme importance when diagnosing internet addiction and more robust sampling procedures may lead to fewer internet addicts identified, which could be a more accurate reflection of internet addiction in the target population.
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A proportion of the internet user population experiences some negative consequences of excessive internet use as well as symptoms that can mirror an addiction. In its most general form, researchers (Beard & Wolf, 2001; Griffiths, 2000; Young, 1999) have called this phenomenon “internet addiction.” Chak and Leung (2004) report that hospitals with internet recovery services can be found in many parts of the United States, citing examples such as the McLean Hospital in Massachusetts and the Illinois Institute for Addiction Recovery at Proctor Hospital, indicating that internet addiction is an actual problem. Studies investigating internet addiction have also been conducted in many countries, including Taiwan (Chou, 2001; Lin & Tsai, 2002; Tsai & Lin, 2003; Yen et al., 2007), China (Cau, Su, Liu, & Gau, 2007), Korea (Hur, 2006; Kim, 2007; Whang, Lee, & Chang, 2003; Yoo et al., 2004), Pakistan (Suhail & Bargees, 2006), India (Nalwa & Anand, 2003), Norway (Johansson & Götestam, 2004), Turkey (Ceyhan, Ceyhan, & Gurcan, 2007), Italy (Ferraro, Caci, D’Amico, & Di Blasi, 2007), England (Griffiths, 2001; Niemz, Griffiths, & Banyard, 2005), the Czech Republic (Simkova & Cincera, 2004), Finland (Kaltiala-Heino, Lintonen, & Rimpela, 2004), and South Africa (Thatcher & Goolam, 2005). These facts indicate that internet addiction is a growing concern across the world.

Since internet addiction is not recognized as a legitimate mental disorder in the DSM-IV and there is no standard definition of the term, many researchers have attempted to define this disorder. For example, Young (1999) defined internet addiction as “an impulse control disorder which does not involve an intoxicant” (p. 2). Kandell (1998) defined internet addiction as “a psychological dependence on the internet, regardless of the type of activity once logged in” (p. 12). Beard and Wolf (2001) define the term as “…use of the internet that creates psychological, social, school, and/or work difficulties in a person’s life” (p. 378). Hall and Parsons (2001) view internet addiction, or what they call “internet behavior dependence,” as a “maladaptive cognitive coping style that can be modified through basic cognitive behavioral intervention” (p. 314). Griffiths (2000) argues that internet addiction is a subset of a behavioral addiction and as such contains the core components of an addiction, including salience, mood modification, tolerance, withdrawal, conflict, and relapse. With all of these definitions taken together, internet addiction can be summarized as a maladaptive pattern of internet usage that significantly interferes with a person’s normal daily routines or activities, including but not limited to relationships with friends, family, and loved ones, one’s work or school environment, and one’s psychological well being.

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