Internet addiction is a problem for 4% of US college students, according to a recent paper by Christakis et. al., published in the BMC Medicine, June 22, 2011. Unlike previous studies that had problematic participant selection biases that inflated the percentage of those addicted to the internet, this study selected 18 - 20 year old undergraduate students from a broader audience at large public US universities.
Using facebook to select and survey these students, Christakis et. al. demonstrate that 4% of students had internet addiction and a significant proportion admitted to longer daily use of the internet than they had intended. This percentage was lower than previous reports, however it is possibly a better representation of the general population. Interestingly, they also found that 12% of participants also suffered moderate to severe depression, suggesting an overlap in these ailments. Statistical analysis of their data revealed that depressed people are 24% more likely to also have internet addiction. As internet usage continues to increase, it will be critically important to address issues of depression and loss of physical connectivity with other people.
Dimitri Christakis et. al.
BMC Medicine 2011, 9:77
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