Internet addiction detection rate among college students in the People’s Republic of China: a meta-analysis (2018)

Child Adolesc Psychiatry Ment Health. 2018 May 25;12:25. doi: 10.1186/s13034-018-0231-6. eCollection 2018.

Shao YJ1, Zheng T1, Wang YQ1, Liu L1, Chen Y1, Yao YS1.



With the development of economy and technology, the Internet is becoming more and more popular. Internet addiction has gradually become a serious issue in public health worldwide. The number of Internet users in China has reached 731 million, with an estimated 24 million adolescents determined as having Internet addiction. In this meta-analysis, we attempted to estimate the prevalence of Internet addiction among College Students in the People’s Republic of China in order to improve the mental health level of college students and provide evidence for the prevention of Internet addiction.


Eligible articles about the prevalence of Internet addiction among college students in China published between 2006 and 2017 were retrieved from online Chinese periodicals, the full-text databases of Wan Fang, VIP, and the Chinese National Knowledge Infrastructure, as well as PubMed. Stata 11.0 was used to perform the analyses.


A total of 26 papers were included in the analyses. The overall sample size was 38,245, with 4573 diagnosed with Internet addiction. The pooled detection rate of Internet addiction was 11% (95% confidence interval [CI] 9-13%) among college students in China. The detection rate was higher in male students (16%) than female students (8%). The Internet addiction detection rate was 11% (95% CI 8-14%) in southern areas, 11% (95% CI 7-14%) in northern areas, 13% (95% CI 8-18%) in eastern areas and 9% (95% CI 8-11%) in the mid-western areas. According to different scales, the Internet addiction detection rate was 11% (95% CI 8-15%) using the Young scale and 9% (95% CI 6-11%) using the Chen scale respectively. Cumulative meta analysis showed that the detection rate had a slight upward trend and gradually stabilized in the last 3 years.


The pooled Internet addiction detection rate of Chinese college students in out study was 11%, which is higher than in some other countries and strongly demonstrates a worrisome situation. Effective measures should be taken to prevent further Internet addiction and improve the current situation.


China; College students; Internet addiction; Meta-analysis; Prevalence

PMID: 29849754

PMCID: PMC5970523

DOI: 10.1186/s13034-018-0231-6