Net addicts may 'self-injure'

13:57, December 08, 2009      

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Teenagers who are addicted to the Internet are more likely to engage in self-harming behavior, an Australian-Chinese study has shown.

Researchers surveyed 1,618 adolescents aged 13 to 18 from Guangdong province about behavior such as hitting themselves, pulling their own hair, or pinching or burning themselves, and gave them a test to gauge Net addiction.

Internet addiction has been classified as a mental health problem since the mid-1990s, with symptoms similar to other addictions.

The test found about 10 percent of the students surveyed were moderately addicted to the Net, while less than 1 percent were severely addicted. The students classified as moderately addicted to the Net were 2.4 times more likely than students without an addiction to have injured themselves one to five times in the past half year, said Dr Lawrence Lam from the University of Notre Dame Australia. The moderately-to-severely addicted students were almost five times more likely than non-addicted students to have self-injured six or more times in the past six months, Lam and his colleagues from Sun Yat-sen University, in Guangdong's capital Guangzhou, reported.

"In recent years, with the greater availability of the Internet in most Asian countries, Internet addiction has become an increasing mental problem among adolescents," the researchers said in their study published in the journal Injury Prevention.

"Many studies have reported associations between Internet addiction, psychiatric symptoms and depression among adolescents," the researchers said.

China has the world's largest online population, surveys by the China Internet Network Information Center have shown.

China Daily-Reuters
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