Problematic Internet use and associated risks in a college sample

Katherine L. Derbyshire, Katherine A. Lust, Liana R.N. Schreiber, Brian L. Odlaug, Gary A. Christenson, David J. Golden, Jon E. Grant

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

112 Scopus citations


Objective The Internet is commonly used among young adults; however, Internet use may become a problematic behavior. Past research has examined Internet behavior in young adults and its relationship to other behaviors and health issues, yet further research is needed to gain a more comprehensive understanding of this relationship. Method A sample (n = 2108) of college students (56.9% female) was examined using a self-report Internet survey concerning demographic characteristics, Internet use, health behaviors, psychosocial functioning, and psychiatric comorbidities. The IAT was used to determine levels of problematic Internet use (limited use (none or almost no use), mild use (typical user), moderate use (occasional problems) and severe use (frequent, serious problems)) and the MINI for testing for psychiatric problems. Results We found that 237 students (12.9%) met criteria for limited Internet use, 1502 (81.8%) for mild Internet use and 98 (5.3%) for moderate to severe Internet use. Variables significantly associated with greater frequency of Internet use included lower Grade Point Average (p =.006), less frequent exercise (p =.018), higher PHQ-9 scores (p <.0001) (indicative of greater depression symptoms) and higher Perceived Stress Scores (p <.0001). Conclusions These data indicate that moderate to severe Internet use is associated with a range of psychosocial problems in young adults. More research is needed to better understand the relationship between Internet use and physical and mental health, as well as academic variables.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)415-422
Number of pages8
JournalComprehensive Psychiatry
Issue number5
StatePublished - Jul 2013

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was supported in part by a Center for Excellence in Gambling Research grant by the National Center for Responsible Gaming , an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) Grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse ( 1RC1DA028279-01 ) to Dr. Grant, and internal funding from Boynton Health Services, University of Minnesota .

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