Internet Addiction Increases Risk of Mental Illness

Written by Dr. Andrew Doan & Brooke Strickland on .

A new study out of McMaster University in Canada found that young people that are addicted to the Internet are more likely to develop mental health issues such as ADHD, anxiety, inability to focus, and depression. For the study, 254 students were given the Internet Addiction Test (IAT) which was developed in 1998, then they designed their own testing scale to measure results. The data showed that those that screened positive for addiction on the IAT as well as on the researcher’s scale had difficulty dealing with daily activities at home, work, school, or in social situations. The data showed that 33 students were addicted to the Internet and 55.8% of students found it hard to control their use of streaming videos and 47.9% could not keep from using social media. About 28.5% of students in the study were hooked on instant messaging tools. The team also found that 42.1% of the students that were surveyed had mental issues that were linked to excessive use of the Internet. (1)  This study also lines up with findings out of the University of Bergren earlier in 2016, where researchers found links between gaming/Internet addiction and more instances of ADHD, depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. (2)

Internet addiction is changing how children and young adults process feelings and interact with other people. For those that are severely addicted to the Internet or use of technology, they often exhibit signs of social awkwardness or are withdrawn. They can sometimes act hostile or angry and have difficulty expressing their feelings or thoughts in healthy ways. Because they have difficulty coping with real life, they turn to technology, gaming, pornography, or other technology outlets to seek acceptance or affirmation. 

Can Internet addiction be cured?
Curing addiction is very complex. Whether it’s video game addiction, pornography addiction, social media addiction, or addiction to drugs or alcohol, researchers are still exploring new ideas and options that can help those living with an addiction to break free. If you or someone you know is addicted to the Internet, the first step is to recognize that there is a problem and start making a proven effort to change behavior. This could be by taking small steps to reduce use of the web or by seeking professional advice from a counselor that specializes in digital addiction.   

The Internet should never have complete control over your mind or have a negative impact on the way you interact with life or deal with your responsibilities. If you or someone you know is showing signs of technology, pornography, or Internet addiction, seek help immediately and start establishing boundaries. For more information:

  1. Palanisamy, Saranya. “Internet Addiction Ups Risks of Other Mental Health Problems: Study.” Tech Times. September 19, 2016.  Accessed online September 19, 2016.
  2. “Videogame addiction linked to ADHD.” Science Daily. April 25, 2016.
    Accessed online May 22, 2016.