The CITE, a blog published by the National Association of College Stores, takes a look at the intersection of education and technology, highlighting issues that range from course materials to learning delivery to the student experience. Comments, discussion, feedback, and ideas are welcome.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Study Finds Internet Addiction Is Real

College students always seem to be online. Now, there’s a reason to be concerned about spending too much time online. Researchers at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill studied the phenomenon and found that Problematic Internet Use (PIU) is similar to other substance-abuse disorders.

The researchers worked with 27 undergraduate or graduate students enrolled at UNC Chapel Hill who spent more than 25 hours a week on the Internet and reported at least one health, relationship, or emotional issue because of PIU.

“Individuals with PIU may have difficulty reducing their Internet use, may be preoccupied with the Internet, or may lie to conceal their use,” Susan M. Snyder, assistant professor of social work, Georgia State University, Atlanta, wrote about the study in The Conversation. “Perhaps not surprisingly, individuals with PIU have been found to experience several negative mental health problems, which could include depression, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, hostility, social phobias, problematic alcohol use, self-injurious behavior, and trouble sleeping.”

Nearly half (48%) of the participants answered “yes” to five or more of eight questions about their usage, leading the researchers to consider them “Internet addicts.” Another 40% were classified as potential addicts because they answered “yes” to at least three of the questions. All of the students met the criteria used in the Compulsive Internet Use Scale, which was developed by a branch of the National Institutes of Health.

“The conclusions come through loud and clear,” Snyder wrote. “PIU exists and it affects family relationships. While those effects may be both positive and negative, those who suffer adverse consequences from PIU may have difficulty addressing their PIU because of requirements to use the Internet for classes via online assignments, online courses, and materials accessed online.”

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