Problematic Internet Use and Co-Morbid Mental Health Problems ...

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This study examines the association between problematic internet use and comorbid mental health problems among university students in Australia. Data for the present study were collected through a questionnaire designed by the researchers. Using convenience sampling method, data were collected from 386 adult students who were aged 18 years and above, studying in two public universities in South Australia. Overall, 8.55 percent of the respondents met the criteria for moderate to severe internet addiction, with males and females similarly at risk. Recreational internet use for pleasure was found to be playing a key role in the incidence of problem internet use. Respondents with high problematic internet use were seventeen times more likely to experience severe depression, OR = 17.0 (95% CI 6.8, 42.8), p<0.001, six times more likely to experience severe stress OR = 6.4 (95% CI 2.6, 15.4), p<0.001, and nearly ten times more likely to experience severe anxiety OR = 9.8 (95% CI 4.1, 23.0), p<0.001. Pathological internet use and co-occurring mental health problem may be a problem widely occurring among university students which might remain untreated for prolonged periods of time. The students dealing with this problem may be seeking professional help for their mental health problems, but not internet addiction. It is time that higher education institutions take this matter seriously and create awareness about internet addiction among their student population and the student counsellors on campus.