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 Table of Contents  
ORIGINAL ARTICLE
Year : 2019  |  Volume : 8  |  Issue : 3  |  Page : 159-163

Internet addiction and its associated factors: Study among the students of a public health school of Kolkata


1 Department of PHA (Public Health Administration), All India Institute of Hygiene and Public Health, Kolkata, West Bengal, India
2 Department of PSM (Preventive and Social Medicine), All India Institute of Hygiene and Public Health, Kolkata, West Bengal, India

Date of Submission18-May-2019
Date of Acceptance10-Jun-2019
Date of Web Publication05-Aug-2019

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Tania Pan
All India Institute of Hygiene and Public Health, 110 C R Avenue, Kolkata, West Bengal
India
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/ijhas.IJHAS_43_18

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  Abstract 


INTRODUCTION: The Internet has brought a wealth of information and has turned to be an important tool for education, entertainment, and communication. However, aspects such as ease of access and social networking have led to addictive behavior.
MATERIALS AND METHODS: An institution-based study was conducted among 147 students of a public health school in Kolkata from October to November 2017. A self-administered questionnaire was used to collect the data on demographic characteristics and the pattern of Internet use, and the assessment of Internet addiction (IA) was done using the validated Young's IA Test. Data entry and analysis was done using SPSS version 16.0. All those who scored more than 30 were considered as IA.
RESULTS: Of 147 students, 44.2% were found to have some degree of IA. Mean age (standard deviation) of the students was 27.9 (5.9) years and 74.8% of the respondents were females. Most students (92.5%) accessed the Internet from their mobile phones and 33.3% have reported to have permanently online login status. Majority (82.3%) have reported social networking as a reason for Internet use. It was found that students with factors such as age group of 27–33 years, male sex, single status, residing away from home, low physical activity, permanently online status, social networking, and accessing the Internet for entertainment were more addicted to the use of Internet.
CONCLUSION: The findings suggest a need for students to indulge in outdoor activities. Interacting with people socially rather than being active on social networking sites and involvement in other recreational activities will help alleviate their dependence on the Internet.

Keywords: Institution based, Internet addiction, public health school, social networking, students


How to cite this article:
Kishore A, Pan T, Naskar NN. Internet addiction and its associated factors: Study among the students of a public health school of Kolkata. Int J Health Allied Sci 2019;8:159-63

How to cite this URL:
Kishore A, Pan T, Naskar NN. Internet addiction and its associated factors: Study among the students of a public health school of Kolkata. Int J Health Allied Sci [serial online] 2019 [cited 2019 Aug 20];8:159-63. Available from: http://www.ijhas.in/text.asp?2019/8/3/159/263948




  Introduction Top


The Internet has brought a wealth of information and has turned to be an important tool for education, entertainment, and communication, thus bringing the whole world closer. However, aspects such as ease of access and social networking have led to addictive behavior.[1] It is a relatively new condition that is not even listed in the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition.[2] Nonetheless, mental health experts believe that Internet addiction (IA), also called IA Disorder, can have the same troubling effects as substance abuse or gambling addiction.

An article in current psychiatry reviews noted that IA "ruins lives by causing neurological complications, psychological disturbances, and social problems."[3] The ill effects of IA include withdrawal from real-life relationships, deterioration in academic activities, and a depressed and nervous mood.[4] According to some studies, few of the users are experiencing a gradual loss of the ability to reduce the duration and frequency of their Internet activities, despite the negative consequences.[4]

Nevertheless, the possibility of exploitation and addiction leading to impairment in academic performance and emotional balance cannot be denied, especially among the young population.[5] It is also inversely related to one's physical activity.[6] The widespread use of Internet has caused new psychological, social, and educational problems for the students.[7] Some studies have also shown that there is a positive association between Internet use and emotional symptoms and other abusive behaviors.[8] Few publications have also stressed on the fact that IA is one of the most prevalent addictions in the general population and a strong motivation is needed to come out of this.[9]

IA has emerged as a global health problem, and the prevalence of IA varies from country to country. Globally, a number of studies have tried to analyze the risk factors associated with IA.[10],[11],[12],[13] At this juncture, addiction to the Internet needs to be addressed. In India, public health personnel remain the main workforce to propagate preventive and promotive behavior in the community. Thus, it is imperative that they themselves remain free from any form of addiction, even IA. Identification of the factors associated with IA among the public health students will help them overcome them and leverage their intrinsic motivation so that they can take up the liability of effectively motivating the community. With this background in mind, this study was conducted to assess the prevalence of IA and identify its associated factors among the students of a public health school of Kolkata.


  Materials and Methods Top


An institution-based cross-sectional study was conducted for 2 months (October–November 2017) among the students enrolled in various courses of a public health school of Kolkata. Ethical approval was obtained from the Institutional Ethics Committee. A predesigned and pretested structured self-administered questionnaire was used to collect data on sociodemographic characteristics, physical activity (International Physical Activity Questionnaire-Short form), and details regarding the pattern of Internet use. IA was assessed using Young's IA Test (YIAT).

All questionnaires were distributed to the participants in classroom settings at a predetermined time and were collected onsite after 30 min. The questionnaires were anonymous and self-administered. It was ensured that no person other than the researcher and the study participants was present in the classroom during the 30-min period to avoid any bias, influence, or hesitancy.

Young's 20-item scale for IA was used to find IA.[14] It is a 20-item questionnaire measured on the 5-point Likert scale. Response scores for each item are added to obtain a final score – normal range: 0–30; mild addiction: 31–49; moderate addiction: 50–79; and severe addiction: 80–100. All those who scored >30 were considered to have IA.

Data were analyzed using appropriate statistical methods in SPSS version 16.0 (SPSS Inc. IBM Corp., Chicago, Illinois) and represented by various tables, graphs, and diagrams accordingly.


  Results Top


Of the 147 participants, 70 (47.6%) belonged to the age group of 20–26 years. The mean (standard deviation [SD]) age of the participants was 27.9 (5.9) years. The median age was 27 years. Almost half (48.9%) of the students were pursuing master's degree in the institution, whereas the others enrolled in some or the other diploma courses. Among the study participants, 110 (74.8%) were female. The proportion of participants who were currently married was 44.9%, and 55 (37.4%) were staying in hostel or paying guest. Almost one-third of the students had low level of physical activity. Approximately half (49.7%) of the students were using the Internet for 5–9 years.

From [Table 1], among the study participants, 32% were used the Internet for >5 h/day. The mean (SD) duration of use was 4.5 (2.3) h. Mobile phones (92.5%) are the most commonly reported gadget used for accessing the Internet. Furthermore, one-third of the students were permanently online.
Table 1: Distribution of the study participants according to their pattern of Internet use (n=147)

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The most frequently reported reasons for Internet use was coursework (93.9%) closely followed by social networking (82.3%) [Table 2].
Table 2: Distribution of the study participants according to reasons for Internet use (n=147)

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Among the students, 2.7% had severe IA, whereas 12.2% were moderately addicted to the Internet [Figure 1]. Overall, the proportion of students who had some degree of IA was 44.2%.
Figure 1: Distribution of the study participants according to their Internet addiction status (n= 147)

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From [Table 3], it was found that students with factors such as age group of 27–33 years, male sex, single status, residing away from home, low physical activity, permanently online status, social networking, and accessing the Internet for entertainment were more addicted to the use of Internet.
Table 3: Relation between various factors and Internet addiction (n=147)

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  Discussion Top


The literature has termed IA frequently in synonymous with pathological Internet use,[15] compulsive Internet use,[16] and problematic Internet use. All of these share some common elements, such as excessive use of the Internet, withdrawal, tolerance, and negative consequences for interpersonal or personal well-being with respect to diagnostic criteria.[17],[18]

In our study, 44.2% of the students were addicted to the Internet. This figure is quite higher than the global past estimates. The prevalence of mild IA (29.3%), moderate IA (12.2%), and severe IA (2.7%) among students in this public health school of Kolkata was lower than that reported by studies in Northeastern India[4] and Maharashtra[13] among the medical students. However, these figures are higher than that reported by a study in Bengaluru[12] among the college students and in Jabalpur[19] among professional course students.

Students, probably due to the psychological and developmental characteristics of young adulthood and limited or no parental supervision, are more susceptible to getting into online friendships, which eventually most often turns into online relationships. The findings of this study suggest that unmarried students tend to use the Internet more frequently than the married ones.

Study findings such as male gender, permanent online status, and accessing the Internet for entertainment purpose were related with IA which was similar to other studies conducted within and outside India.[4],[11],[12]

The main strength of the study was the use of a standard YIAT questionnaire to assess IA. The excellent psychometric properties of the questionnaire are well documented in the literature.[20] However, the two relatively major drawbacks were the recall bias and social desirability bias. As this was a retrospective study and participants were asked to report the details of past exposure to/use of the Internet, there remain chances of recall bias. Furthermore, self-reporting of data may lead to social desirability bias, as the study participants may have responded in such a manner that will be viewed favorable by others.


  Conclusion Top


India is a developing country that is embracing advancements in technology at a fast pace. Although there are a number of studies globally where the researchers have tried to analyze the risk factors associated with IA, there are very limited studies establishing the prevalence of IA in the eastern part of India, especially Kolkata. The results of this study provide evidence to support the findings of the prior research from an Indian context.

In the present scenario where the Internet is becoming an essential component of an individual's personal and social life, IA has emerged as public health issue, related with multiple factors and varied patterns of Internet use. The need of the hour is to create awareness among the public, plan public health policies with regard to this behavioral addiction, and conduct further research to support the same.

The findings suggest a need for students to indulge in outdoor activities. Interacting with people socially rather than being active on social networking sites and involvement in other recreational activities will help alleviate their dependence on the Internet.

Acknowledgments

We acknowledge all the study participants for their valuable time.

Financial support and sponsorship

Nil.

Conflicts of interest

There are no conflicts of interest.



 
  References Top

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Kuss DJ, Griffiths MD. Online social networking and addiction – A review of the psychological literature. Int J Environ Res Public Health 2011;8:3528-52.  Back to cited text no. 1
    
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American Psychiatric Association. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. 5th ed. Arlington: American Psychiatric Association; 2013.  Back to cited text no. 2
    
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Nath K, Naskar S, Victor R. A cross-sectional study on the prevalence, risk factors, and ill effects of internet addiction among medical students in Northeastern India. Prim Care Companion CNS Disord 2016;18:10.4088/PCC.15m01909.  Back to cited text no. 4
    
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Ching SM, Hamidin A, Vasudevan R, Sazlyna MS, Wan Aliaa WS, Foo YL, et al. Prevalence and factors associated with internet addiction among medical students – A cross-sectional study in Malaysia. Med J Malaysia 2017;72:7-11.  Back to cited text no. 11
    
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Young KS, de Abreu CN. Internet Addiction: A Handbook and Guide to Evaluation and Treatment. New York: Wiley; 2010. p. 23.  Back to cited text no. 14
    
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Shapira NA, Goldsmith TD, Keck PE Jr., Khosla UM, McElroy SL. Psychiatric features of individuals with problematic internet use. J Affect Disord 2000;57:267-72.  Back to cited text no. 17
    
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