Having grown up in the world of tweeting, liking, DMing, etc., it’s no surprise that college-aged students today are prone to internet addiction. But now millennials may have larger issues to deal with if they have trouble putting down the phone. New research indicates that internet addiction may be a warning signal for other mental health issues.
With further examination, these results could change the way doctors evaluate and treat excessive internet usage.
Canadian Researchers assessed 254 freshmen from McMaster University in Ontario using two different scales to evaluate internet use. According to first scale, the Internet Addiction Test (IAT), 33 students met the criteria for internet addiction. Using the second test, which was designed by chief researcher Van Ameringen, 107 students showed signs of problematic internet use.
The research team further surveyed the students to evaluate for symptoms of depression, anxiety, ADHD and impulsivity. Internet addicts showed a significantly higher amounts of mental health problems compared to other students.
While the research found an association between excessive internet use and mental illness, it is still unknown whether mental health issues are a direct result of internet use. The research team believes a larger study with a more diverse population is needed in order for the results to be conclusive.
In a news release in the European Network for Collaborative Practice, Van Ameringen said the test “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. We need to understand this more, so we need a bigger sample, drawn from a wider, more varied population.”
Photo: MikeRenpening, CC-BY
Jane Snyder is a health intern with Paste and a freelance writer and photojournalist based out of Athens, Georgia.