PLoS One. 2015 Oct 13;10(10):e0137506. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0137506. eCollection 2015.
Internet addiction (IA) has become a major public health issue worldwide and is closely linked to psychiatric disorders and suicide. The present study aimed to investigate the prevalence of IA and its associated psychosocial and psychopathological determinants among internet users across different age groups.
The study was a cross-sectional survey initiated by the Taiwan Suicide Prevention Center. The participants were recruited from the general public who responded to the online questionnaire. They completed a series of self-reported measures, including Chen Internet Addiction Scale-revised (CIAS-R), Five-item Brief Symptom Rating Scale (BSRS-5), Maudsley Personality Inventory (MPI), and questions about suicide and internet use habits.
We enrolled 1100 respondents with a preponderance of female subjects (85.8%). Based on an optimal cutoff for CIAS-R (67/68), the prevalence rate of IA was 10.6%. People with higher scores of CIAS-R were characterized as: male, single, students, high neuroticism, life impairment due to internet use, time for internet use, online gaming, presence of psychiatric morbidity, recent suicide ideation and past suicide attempts. Multiple regression on IA showed that age, gender, neuroticism, life impairment, internet use time, and BSRS-5 score accounted for 31% of variance for CIAS-R score. Further, logistic regression showed that neuroticism, life impairment and internet use time were three main predictors for IA. Compared to those without IA, the internet addicts had higher rates of psychiatric morbidity (65.0%), suicide ideation in a week (47.0%), lifetime suicide attempts (23.1%), and suicide attempt in a year (5.1%).
Neurotic personality traits, psychopathology, time for internet use and its subsequent life impairment were important predictors for IA. Individuals with IA may have higher rates of psychiatric morbidity and suicide risks. The findings provide important information for further investigation and prevention of IA.