European Journal of Public Health, Volume 27, Issue suppl_3, 1 November 2017, ckx187.352, https://doi.org/10.1093/eurpub/ckx187.352
The Internet has become an indispensable part of current modern living; however, excessive self-indulgence and pathological use of this medium has led to development of internet addiction (IA). IA is defined as inability to control one’s use of the Internet which leads to negative consequences in daily life. Prevalence for IA in young people varies between 2% and 18% worldwide. The aim of this study was to examine the prevalence of IA among Croatian university students and its interconnections with gender and main reason for Internet usage.
As part of this cross-sectional study a validated, anonymous questionnaire that contained questions regarding demographic data as well as Young’s Internet Addiction Test was self-administered to cross-faculty representative student sample of University of Osijek, Croatia during April and May 2016.
The study sample included 730 students, the average age being 21 (range 19-44), 34.4% males and 75.6% females. The main reasons for Internet usage were learning and faculty assignments (26.4%), social networking and entertainment (71.7%) and online gaming (1.9%). There were 41.9% of the students who had IA; 79.8% had mild, 19.9% moderate and 0.3% severe IA. IA was more frequent among males (51.1%) than among females (38.9%) (χ2-test; p = 0.005). IA was determined among 17.3% of students whose main reason for Internet usage was learning and faculty assignments, among 79.4% of students whose main reason for Internet usage was social networking and entertainment and among 3.3% of students whose main reason for Internet usage was online gaming (χ2-test; p < 0.001).
IA is highly prevalent among Croatian university students and as such represents an important public health challenge within this population. Social networking and entertainment as reasons for Internet usage represent significant risk factors for the development of IA in the studied population.
- IA is an important public health problem among university students in Croatia that requires awareness and intervention.
- Characteristics of Internet usage found to be associated with IA need to be considered while developing strategies for interventions.