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Internet addiction linked to self harm tendencies

New research conducted on Chinese adolescents has revealed that addiction to internet can result in heightened self-harming behavior

Sydney, December 6 -- Findings of a new study reveal that adolescents addicted to the Internet are twice as likely to harm themselves vis-à-vis teens who do not get hooked to the World Wide Web.

The study was conducted in China, a country which has already shown a lot of resistance against the use of Internet for various other reasons.

The Chinese administration has banned pornographic sites due to the detrimental impact of such sites on young minds.

The findings of the present study may well put the existence of Internet in jeopardy in the world’s most populous country.

Details of the study
For the purpose of the study, researchers surveyed 1,618 students aged between 13 and 18. All these participants were residents of the Chinese city of Guangzhou in Guandong Province.

The definition of ‘self-harm’ as mentioned in the study included hair pulling, hitting, deliberate burning, and pinching. The researchers made clear that self-harm did not mean the intent to kill self.

Of the total participants, about 90 percent were normal users of the Internet, close to 10 percent were reasonably addicted, while 0.6 percent of the participants were severely addicted to the Internet.

Being online made addicts feel better
The authors reveal that teens addicted to the Internet experienced depression and anxiety when they were not online. On the other hand, these teens felt better when they logged on to the Internet.

About 16 percent of the respondents revealed that they had harmed themselves in the last six months, and 4.5 percent confessed that they had harmed themselves at least six times during that period.

The study also found that when the addicted teens hurt themselves, they did so more dangerously than other teens.

Previous research has also established a correlation between excessive use of the Internet, psychiatric symptoms, and hopelessness among young people. The problem has become more pronounced in recent times.

"In recent years, with the greater availability of the internet in most Asian countries, internet addiction has become an increasing mental problem among adolescents," noted key author of the study, Dr. Lawrence Lam, from the University of Notre Dame Australia.

The authors of the study suggested that more work was needed on the subject to draw concrete conclusions.

"Internet addiction and self-injurious behavior can both be considered as part of the spectrum of impulse control disorders. All these behaviours may be rooted in some common … factors that require further exploration," claim the researchers.

The study has been published in the Dec. 3 issue of journal Injury Prevention.