Excessive internet use in European adolescents: What determines differences in severity?

Abstract

Objectives

This study investigated the differences between non-excessive, moderately excessive, and highly excessive internet use among adolescents. These differences were explored in terms of personal characteristics, psychological difficulties, environmental factors, and manner of internet use.

Methods

A representative sample was investigated, consisting of 18,709 adolescents aged 11–16 and their parents, from 25 European countries. Excessive internet use was measured using a five item scale covering following factors: salience, conflict, tolerance, withdrawal symptoms, and relapse and reinstatement. The main data analysis utilised multinomial and binary logistic regression models.

Results

The vast majority of respondents reported no signs of excessive internet use. Moderately excessive users (4.4 %) reported higher emotional and behavioural difficulties, but also more sophisticated digital skills and a broader range of online activities. The highly excessive users (1.4 %) differed from the non-excessive and moderately excessive users in their preference for online games and in having more difficulties with self-control.

Conclusions

Adolescents who struggle with attention and self-control and who are inclined toward online gaming may be especially vulnerable to the otherwise uncommon phenomenon of excessive internet use.

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Acknowledgments

This article draws on the work of the EU Kids Online network funded by the European Commission (DG Information Society) Safer Internet plus Programme (project code SIP-KEP-321803); see www.eukidsonline.net. The authors also acknowledge the support of the VITOVIN project (CZ.1.07/2.3.00/20.0184), which is co-financed by the European Social Fund and the state budget of Czech Republic, and also the project of Czech Science Foundation (P407/12/1831) and Estonian Research Council (ETF8527).

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Correspondence to Lukas Blinka.

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This article is part of the special issue “Communication Technology, Media Use and the Health of Our Kids”.

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Blinka, L., Škařupová, K., Ševčíková, A. et al. Excessive internet use in European adolescents: What determines differences in severity?. Int J Public Health 60, 249–256 (2015). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00038-014-0635-x

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Keywords

  • Adolescents
  • Excessive internet use
  • Internet addiction