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Internet addiction may indicate other mental health problems in college-aged students

A new survey of internet users suggests that people who use the internet excessively may have more mental health problems. Using two scales to evaluate internet use, researchers have found high rates of problematic internet use in a group of primarily college-aged students. The researchers evaluated internet addiction using the Internet Addiction Test, as well as newer scale of their own design, based on updated addiction criteria. This work, which is presented at the ECNP conference in Vienna, may have implications for how psychiatrists approach excessive internet use.

The unstoppable rise of the internet has given rise to fears that increasing numbers people are becoming unable to cope without regularly going online. The Internet Addiction Test (IAT) is the standard test used to measure excessive reliance on the internet, but as Chief Researcher Michael Van Ameringen pointed out: “The IAT was developed in 1998, prior to the widespread use of smartphone technology. In addition, internet use has changed radically over the last 18 years, through more people working online, media streaming, social media, etc. We were concerned that the IAT questionnaire may not have been picking up on problematic modern internet use, or showing up false positives for people who were simply using the internet rather than being over-reliant on it.”

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