JMIR Ment Health. 2017 Apr 3;4(2):e11. doi: 10.2196/mental.5537.
Adolescents increasingly use the Internet for communication, education, entertainment, and other purposes in varying degrees. Given their vulnerable age, they may be prone to Internet addiction.
Our aim was to identify possible differences in the purpose of Internet use among adolescents with respect to age subgroup, country of residence, and gender and the distribution of Internet addiction across age subgroups. Another aim was to determine if there is a correlation between the purpose of Internet use and age and if this interaction influences the level of addiction to the Internet.
The study included a simple random sample of 1078 adolescents-534 boys and 525 girls-aged 11-18 years attending elementary and grammar schools in Croatia, Finland, and Poland. Adolescents were asked to complete an anonymous questionnaire and provide data on age, gender, country of residence, and purpose of Internet use (ie, school/work or entertainment). Collected data were analyzed with the chi-square test for correlations.
Adolescents mostly used the Internet for entertainment (905/1078, 84.00%). More female than male adolescents used it for school/work (105/525, 20.0% vs 64/534, 12.0%, respectively). Internet for the purpose of school/work was mostly used by Polish adolescents (71/296, 24.0%), followed by Croatian (78/486, 16.0%) and Finnish (24/296, 8.0%) adolescents. The level of Internet addiction was the highest among the 15-16-year-old age subgroup and was lowest in the 11-12-year-old age subgroup. There was a weak but positive correlation between Internet addiction and age subgroup (P=.004). Male adolescents mostly contributed to the correlation between the age subgroup and level of addiction to the Internet (P=.001).
Adolescents aged 15-16 years, especially male adolescents, are the most prone to the development of Internet addiction, whereas adolescents aged 11-12 years show the lowest level of Internet addiction.
Internet addiction; adolescents; stages of adolescence