SYDNEY (Reuters) - Teenagers who are addicted to the Internet are more likely to engage in self-harm behavior, according to an Australian-Chinese study.
The moderately-to-severely addicted students were almost five times more likely than non-addicted students to have self-injured six or more times in the past 6 months, Lam and his colleagues from Guangzhou's Sun Yat-Sen University reported. "In recent years, with the greater availability of the Internet in most Asian countries, Internet addiction has become an increasing mental problem among adolescents," the researchers said in their study published in the journal Injury Prevention. "Many studies have reported associations between Internet addiction, psychiatric symptoms and depression among adolescents."
They said their results suggested a "strong and significant" association between Internet addiction and self-injury in adolescence even after accounting for other variables previously associated with the behavior, including depression, family dissatisfaction, or stressful life events. They said this suggested that Internet addiction is an independent risk factor for self-injurious behavior. Experts interpret Internet addiction, among other things, as feelings of depression, nervousness, moodiness when not online, which only go away when the addict gets back online. Fantasizing or being preoccupied about being online are other signs of Internet addiction. "All these behaviors may be rooted in some common ... factors that require further exploration," they said.
(Reporting by Laura Buchholz of Reuters Health, Editing by Belinda Goldsmith and Miral Fahmy)