Alcohol Alcohol. 2014 Sep;49 Suppl 1:i5-i6. doi: 10.1093/alcalc/agu052.16.
The current debate on internet addiction is driven by question of whether it constitutes a distinct mental disorder. Our analysis of excessive internet use in adolescents offers an evidence for the line of research that distinguishes between addiction to the internet in general and addiction to specific online applications (as online games, cybersex, etc.)
We worked with the EU Kids Online II survey data representative for children aged 11 to 16 years in 25 European countries (N = 18,709). EIU was measured using five-items scale with one item for each of following criteria: salience, withdrawal, tolerance, conflict, and relapse. A set of regression models was used to assess the probabilities of various negative consequences for each EIU score.
Surprisingly consistent pattern was identified across Europe when controlling for country differences with the score of 2.5 on EIU doubling the probability of misbehaviours, health and mental health problems, and negative online experiences.
Our results suggest that general internet addiction as measured by EIU scale occurs in children that suffer from much broader spectrum of both, online and offline, problems. Therefore, it might be better described as a symptom of behavioural problems rather than a separate psychological condition.