Pediatr Int. 2020 Apr 16. doi: 10.1111/ped.14250.
Internet addiction is a serious problem, and the incidence has increased significantly in recent years. In two cross-sectional studies over a 4-year period, we investigated Internet addiction in adolescents and evaluated the resulting changes in their lives.
Junior high school students (aged 12 to 15 years) were assessed in 2014 (survey I) and in 2018 (survey II). They filled out Young’s Internet Addiction Test (IAT), the Japanese version of the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ), and a questionnaire on sleep habits and usage of electric devices.
A total of 1382 students were recruited for the two surveys. The mean IAT score was significantly higher in survey II (36.0 ± 15.2) than in survey I (32.4 ± 13.6) (p < 0.001). The increase in total IAT score indicates that the rate of Internet addiction was significantly higher in 2018 than in 2014. For each subscale of the GHQ, social dysfunction scores were significantly lower in survey II than in survey I (p = 0.022). During the weekend, mean total sleep time was 504.8 ± 110.1 min, and the time of awakening was 08:02 h in survey II; the total sleep time and wake time were significantly longer and later, respectively, in survey II than in survey I (p < 0.001, p = 0.004, respectively). Smartphone usage was also significantly higher in survey II than in survey I (p < 0.001).
The prevalence of Internet addiction differed over the 4 years of this study.
KEYWORDS: behavioral addiction; gaming disorder; internet addiction; junior high school; pathological Internet use