Internet addiction affects 6 percent of people worldwide

Internet addiction is an impulse-control problem marked by an inability to inhibit Internet use, which can adversely affect a person’s life, including their health and interpersonal relationships. The prevalence of Internet addiction varies among regions around the world, as shown by data from more than 89,000 individuals in 31 countries analyzed for a study published in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, a peer-reviewed journal from Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers. The article is available free on the Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking website until January 18, 2015.

In the article “Internet Addiction Prevalence and Quality of (Real) Life: A Meta-Analysis of 31 Nations Across Seven World Regions,” Cecelia Cheng and Angel Yee-lam Li, The University of Hong Kong, present 164 Internet addiction prevalence figures, with an overall global prevalence estimate of 6.0%. Prevalence ranged from a low of 2.6% in Northern and Western Europe to a high of 10.9% in the Middle East. The authors describe factors associated with higher Internet addiction prevalence and how it relates to individuals’ quality of life.

“This study provides initial support for the inverse relationship between quality of life and Internet Addiction (IA). It, however, finds no support for the hypothesis that high Internet accessibility (such as the high penetration rates in northern and western Europe), promote IA,” says Editor-in-Chief Brenda K. Wiederhold, PhD, MBA, BCB, BCN, Interactive Media Institute, San Diego, California and Virtual Reality Medical Institute, Brussels, Belgium.


About the Journal

Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking is an authoritative peer-reviewed journal published monthly online with Open Access options and in print that explores the psychological and social issues surrounding the Internet and interactive technologies, plus cybertherapy and rehabilitation. Complete tables of content and a sample issue may be viewed on the Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking website.

Internet addiction (IA) has emerged as a universal issue, but its international estimates vary vastly. This multinational meta-analysis fills this gap by providing estimates of its global prevalence. Two hypotheses were formulated to explain the cross-national variations. The accessibility hypothesis predicts that IA prevalence is positively related to Internet penetration rate and GDP per capita, whereas the quality of (real) life hypothesis predicts that IA prevalence is inversely related to a global national index of life satisfaction and specific national indices of environmental quality. Multiple search strategies were used in an attempt to retrieve all empirical reports from 1996 to 2012 that adopted the Young Diagnostic Questionnaire or Internet Addiction Test for assessing generalized IA. The data set comprised 164 prevalence figures derived from 80 reports, including 89,281 participants from 31 nations across seven world regions. A random effects meta-analysis showed a global prevalence estimate of 6.0% [95% CI 5.1–6.9], with moderate heterogeneity (I2=44%, p

<0.0001). The highest prevalence was in the Middle East with 10.9% [95% CI 5.4–16.3], and the lowest was in Northern and Western Europe with 2.6% [95% CI 1.0–4.1]. Moreover, IA prevalence was higher for nations with greater traffic time consumption, pollution, and dissatisfaction with life in general. The prevalence rate of IA varies across world regions. IA prevalence is inversely associated with the quality of life, as reflected by both subjective (life satisfaction) and objective (quality of environmental conditions) indicators.

About the Publisher

Internet addiction affects 6 percent of people worldwide Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers is a privately held, fully integrated media company known for establishing authoritative peer-reviewed journals in many promising areas of science and biomedical research, including Games for Health Journal, Telemedicine and e-Health, and Journal of Child and Adolescent Psychopharmacology. Its biotechnology trade magazine, Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News (GEN), was the first in its field and is today the industry’s most widely read publication worldwide. A complete list of the firm’s 80 journals, books, and newsmagazines is available on the Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers website.


Kathryn Ryan
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Mary Ann Liebert, Inc./Genetic Engineering News

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