Moderating effects of depressive symptoms on the relationship between problematic use of the Internet and sleep problems in Korean adolescents (2018)

BMC Psychiatry. 2018 Sep 4;18(1):280. doi: 10.1186/s12888-018-1865-x.

Park MH1, Park S2, Jung KI1, Kim JI3, Cho SC4, Kim BN5.



Adolescence is a period of marked sleep pattern changes and sleep problems, which may result from both endogenous and exogenous factors. Among the various factors affecting adolescent sleep, depression and problematic Internet use (PIU) have received considerable attention. We examined if there is a different PIU effect on sleep between depressed group and non-depressed groups.


Data for a total of 766 students’ between 7th and 11th grades were analyzed. We assessed various variables related sleep to problems and depression and compared those variables between an adolescent group with problematic Internet use (PIUG) and an adolescent group with normal Internet use (NIUG).


One hundred fifty two participants were classified as PIUG, and 614 were classified as NIUG. Compared with the NIUG, the members of the PIUG were more prone to insomnia, excessive daytime sleepiness and sleep-wake behavior problems. The PIUG also tended to include more evening types than the NIUG. Interestingly, the effect of Internet use problems on sleep problems appeared to be different according to the presence or absence of the moderating effect of depression. When we considered the moderating effect of depression, the effect of Internet use problems on sleep-wake behavior problems, insomnia and excessive daytime sleepiness increased with increasing Young’s Internet Addiction Scale (IAS) scores in the non-depressed group. However, in the depressed group, the effects of Internet use problems on sleep-wake behavior problems and insomnia did not change with increasing Internet use problems, and the effect of Internet use problems on excessive daytime sleepiness was relatively decreased with increasing Internet use problems in the depressed group.


This study demonstrated that the effect of PIU on sleep presented differently between the depressed and non-depressed groups. PIU is associated with poorer sleep in non-depressed adolescents but not in depressed adolescents. This finding might be observed because PIU may be the biggest contributor to sleep problems in the problematic Internet user without depression, but in the problematic Internet user with depression, depression might be a more important contributor to sleep problems; thus, the influence of PIU on sleep effect might be diluted.

KEYWORDS: Depression; Excessive daytime sleepiness; Insomnia; Sleep-wake rhythm

PMID: 30180824

DOI: 10.1186/s12888-018-1865-x