Events | The current status of internet addiction among adolescents in southern cities of China and related factors analysis
There is a breaking news in March 2020: a 14-year-old boy tried to suicide after being beaten and scolded by his father because he was addicted to the Internet. At the critical moment, the police offered the boy a marvelous game account as return, which stabilized his mood and let him be rescued.
In recent years, there have been many “family accidents” caused by teenagers who are addicted to the Internet. For example, Xiaoqi, an 11-year-old boy, spent more than ¥ 400,000 household-savings on purchases for game equipment. A 13-year-old boy in Hangzhou jumped off the fourth floor after being scolded by his father due to gaming addiction. Although he luckily survived, his first sentence after all is:
“Where is my phone? I want to log in to the game account.”
With the continuous development and popularization of the Internet, online social activities such as social media interaction and online games have been welcomed by a large number of young people. According to data from the China Internet Network Information Center (CNNIC) in 2019, there were a total of 854 million Internet users in China (as of June 2019), of which the young users ranger from 10 to 19 years old. However, over-reliance on the Internet would lead to a variety of undesirable consequences, and Internet addiction is one of the most serious ones.
A large number of studies have shown that Internet addiction could have a negative impact on the growth of adolescents, such as declined physical function (Tran et al., 2017), interpersonal communications difficulties (Cerniglia et al., 2017), learning difficulities (Kojima et al., 2019; Modara et al., 2017) and substance addiction (Sun et al., 2012), etc.
Dr. Xinli Chi and her team in our school recently published a paper in Addictive Behaviors, examining profiles of Internet addiction among Chinese early adolescents and exploring both the personal and familial correlates of Internet addiction based on a large random sample. This study provides feasible theory and practice for the prevention and intervention of Internet addiction in adolescents.
The percentage of Internet addiction in the present findings were generally higher than those reported by earlier researchers (e.g., Hoyxebay et al. 2016; Shek & Yu, 2012a). This result indicated that excessive Internet use is becoming an increasingly serious problem among the adolescent population in Shenzhen and that problem has intensified in recent years. Internet addiction can lead to impaired interpersonal relationships, reduced academic performance, and a range of related psychological problems (Cerniglia et al., 2016; Kojima et al., 2019; Modara et al., 2017; Sun et al., 2012). As such, modern society urgently needs researchers, educators, parents, and policymakers to work together to resolve this issue. .
According to the ecological risk/protection theory, psychosocial variables either promote or hinder the process of adolescent development, in which individual and family factors are particularly important (Bogenschneider, 1996). Therefore, in this study, Dr. Chi and her team further explored the factors related to adolescent Internet addiction, mainly as follows:
The boys were more likely to be addicted than the girls.
This is consistent with previous studies (Durkee et al., 2012; Miao et al., 2018). One explanation for this result may be attributed to the role of testosterone; the boys held higher reward expectations than the girls, and thus the boys were more likely to indulge in Internet overuse to achieve the desired reward value (Smith, Chein, & Steinberg, 2013). Another possibility is that girls in China generally receive more family supervision than boys, which may prevent the former from spending as much time on the Internet as do the latter (Yu & Shek, 2013).
Students with poor grades were more likely to turn to the Internet more frequently than those who achieved good grades.
Again, this is consistent with the findings reached by prior studies (Gencer & Koc, 2012; Malak et al., 2017). Students who reach a poor academic performance may possess low self-esteem and be pressured by their schools, in which case the Internet is an outlet to escape these pressures and achieve satisfaction and pleasure by realizing their potential elsewhere (Gencer & Koc, 2012).
Left-behind children (residing in cities and towns) are more likely to become overly dependent upon the Internet and form potential Internet addiction.
Although the basic care of left-behind children is guaranteed, the inner emotional exchange is lacking, and their emotional needs are difficult to meet (Wang et al., 2015). To alleviate this sense of loneliness, they are likely to seek emotional satisfaction through the Internet to obtain social support and reduce loneliness, which may eventually lead to Internet addiction.
Family functioning is closely related to adolescents’ Internet addiction.
High conflict and poor communication between family members may result in low family participation and cohesion as well as poor parent-child relationships. Such a family situation may lead to parents’ insufficient monitoring of their children’s problem behaviors and further make teenagers vulnerable to developing Internet addiction (Nelson, Patience, & Macdonald, 1999; Yu & Shek, 2013).
Two Main Conclusions:
1. The prevalence of Internet addiction among early adolescents in China is relatively high, which suggests that urgent preventive and interventive measures are necessary.
2. Boys, young students who achieve poor academic performance, youth who do not live with their parents, and those associated with poor family functions require special assistance to prevent and reduce their possibility of becoming addicted to the online world.
This paper was published on Addictive Behaviors, a journal in JCR Zone 1. Dr. Xinli Chi from School of Psychology, Shenzhen University, is the first author of the paper. Shenzhen University is the first unit. This research work is supported by the joint project of Shenzhen University and Renmin University of China.
Related Information of the Paper:
Chi, X. , Hong, X. , & Chen, X. (2020). Profiles and sociodemographic correlates of internet addiction in early adolescents in southern china. Addictive Behaviors, 106, 106385.
Text Source｜Psychology School
Student Editor｜Wu Chenger
Review｜Jiao Can、Zhou Yongdi