College students using the internet moderately score better on physical, mental, social and general health parameters as compared to those who are internet addicts. A study of 987 college students from Mumbai found that internet addicts and possible addicts are more depressed and suffer from anxiety as compared to moderate internet users.
Students were assessed with a specially constructed semi-structured proforma and a standardised internet addiction test.
Of those surveyed, 74.5% were classified as moderate users, 24.8% as possible addicts, and 0.7% as addicts based on the standard testing tool. Addiction is broadly defined as any maladaptive behaviour that causes impairment in social and functional life.
For instance, on the Duke health profile, moderate users scored 80 on physical health, 70 on mental health, and 80 on social health compared to 50, 60 and 50 respectively for addicts.
Duke health profile is a questionnaire that measures different health parameters such as social, physical and mental health.
“Excessive internet use may affect social life and occupational life of an individual,” said Dr Deepak Goel, the primary author of the study. “There is a high likelihood of having anxiety and depression with those indulging in high internet use.”
“However, it may still remain a matter of debate whether to call internet addiction a distinct disorder by itself or a behavioural problem secondary to another disorder,” said the study, which was co-authored by Dr Alka Subramanyam and Dr Ravindra Kamath. The data for ‘A study on the prevalence of internet addiction and its association with psychopathology in Indian adolescents’ was collected in 2009 from students, whose mean age was 16.8 years.
The study was published in the previous edition of the Indian Journal of Psychiatry.