15 Oct Drug Abuse May Be Connected With Excessive Internet Use
Parents and children alike have a difficult time deciding how much is too much when it comes to Internet use. With homework and social life sometimes having an online focus, families may even struggle to determine what kinds of Internet use fall into social and academic categories.
Parents may find it less challenging to determine whether their child’s Internet use appears to be pathological. While no definition for Internet “addiction” has been established, pathological use may be recognized by its sacrifice of other important obligations and interests in favor of time spent on the Internet.
When a child gives up activities that were previously important, such as a part-time job, sports teams and time spent with peers in extracurricular activities, parents may begin to wonder if Internet use has taken too strong a hold.
Recently, a study by Greek researchers found that pathological Internet use may be linked with drug abuse. The research team found that certain personality traits were prominent in both types of behavior, and that addiction to the Internet was a reliable predictor for substance abuse, said study co-author Georgios Floros.
The study examined the habits of 1,271 students between the ages of 14 and 19 living on the Aegean island of Kos. The teenagers were questioned about Internet use, personality and substance use. Included in the questions was a test which asked specific questions about potentially problematic Internet behaviors.
The students were asked to report on how their grades were impacted by Internet use, how frequently they experienced annoyance if they were interrupted during online activities, and how often they found that they had stayed on the Internet longer than they had intended.
The analysis of the responses revealed that teens who answered that they participated in abuse of a substance had higher median scores on the Internet addiction test than those who did not engage in substance abuse. The scores on the Internet test were reliable predictors for a history of substance abuse.
The authors of the study note that targeting adolescents who engage in a heightened level of Internet use could be a way to reduce substance abuse with education and intervention.
The researchers stress that there is no definition established for Internet addiction, and there is not an agreed-upon set of criteria to measure its overuse. In addition, the findings of the study identify a link between drug use, personality type and Internet use, but does not provide evidence for a cause-and-effect relationship.
The authors note that while the study does not provide information about causality, it does highlight the need for parents to be very aware of what teenagers are doing online, just as they need to keep careful track of what their children are doing when not online.
The study’s findings appear in a recent issue of the Journal of Addiction Medicine.
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