Acta Med Iran. 2014 Jun;52(6):467-72.
Problematic use of the Internet by children and adolescents is a newly emerging disorder that has alerted health authorities throughout the world. In Iran, despite the very high speed rate of Internet spread, there is not enough data on the rate of Internet addiction among the adolescents. This study is the first nationwide study that addresses this issue.
Overall 4500 students of high school or pre-college schools were recruited from 13/31 provinces of Iran by a cluster sampling method and 4342 (96%) participated. Two self-rated questionnaires (one demographics and one Young’s Internet addiction scale) were filled by the participants. Data were analyzed by SPSS software.
962 (22.2%) of the study participants were labeled as having “internet addiction.” Males were significantly more likely to be an internet addict [28.3% (M) versus 16% (F)] (P<0.001). Students whose father and/or mother had a doctorate degree were most likely to have Internet addiction (P<0.001 for both). Job engagement of mothers was significantly associated with students’ internet addiction, and the least rate of addiction was observed when the mother was a housewife (P<0.001); having no exercise was associated with the highest rate of Internet addiction (P<0.001).
Stepwise logistic regression models showed gender (male), older age, mother’s occupation, family’s financial status (either very high or very low), low quality of family relationship, and students’ lower levels of religious devotion were significantly associated with having Internet addiction. This study showed that Internet addiction in Iranian adolescents is prevalent, and has several independent factors, from which, family relations is most likely to be modifiable. Improvements in family relations and more strict parental supervision, especially when mothers have active job employment, are recommended.