J Pediatr. 2018 Mar 15. pii: S0022-3476(18)30070-2. doi: 10.1016/j.jpeds.2018.01.046.
To explore the role of Internet addiction in the development of self-harm/suicidal behavior among adolescents after 1-year of follow-up.
We conducted this 1-year, prospective cohort study of 1861 adolescents (mean age 15.93 years) attending a senior high school in Taiwan; 1735 respondents (93.2%) were classified as having no history of self-harm/suicidal attempts in the initial assessment and were referred to as the “noncase” cohort. The Chen Internet Addiction Scale was used to identify individuals with Internet addiction. The participants were evaluated for self-harm/suicidal behavior again 1 year later and the “noncase” cohort was selected for statistical analysis. To examine the relationship between Internet addiction and self-harm/suicidal behavior, multivariate logistic regression analysis was performed using Internet addiction at baseline as the predictor for newly developed self-harm/suicidal behavior in the next year, after adjustment for potential confounding variables.
The prevalence rate of Internet addiction at baseline was 23.0%. There were 59 students (3.9%) who were identified as having developed new self-harm/suicidal behaviors on follow-up assessments. After controlling for the effects of potential confounders, the relative risk of newly emerging self-harm/suicidal behavior for participants who were classified as Internet addicted was 2.41 (95% CI 1.16-4.99, P = .018) when compared with those without Internet addiction.
Our findings indicate that Internet addiction is prospectively associated with the incidence of self-harm/suicidal behavior in adolescents.