Background To investigate the prevalence of Internet addiction among Chinese adolescents and to explore the psychological features associated with Internet addiction.
Methods A total of 2620 high school students from four high schools in Changsha City were surveyed using Diagnostic Questionnaire for Internet Addiction (YDQ), Eysenck Personality Questionnaire (the edition for children, EPQ), Time Management Disposition Scale (TMDS) and Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire (SDQ). The mean age of whole sample was 15.19 years (ranging from 12 years to 18 years). According to the modified YDQ criteria by Beard, 64 students who were diagnosed as Internet addiction (the mean age: 14.59 years) and 64 who were diagnosed as being normal in Internet usage (the mean age: 14.81 years) were included in a case–control study.
Results The rate of Internet use among the surveyed adolescents was 88%, among which the incidence rate of Internet addiction was 2.4%. The Internet addiction group had significantly higher scores on the EPQ subscales of neuroticism, psychoticism, and lie than the control group (P < 0.05). The Internet addiction group scored lower than the control group on the TMDS subscales of sense of control over time, sense of value of time, and sense of time efficacy (P < 0.05). Compared with the control group, the Internet addiction group had also significantly higher scores on the SDQ subscales of emotional symptoms, conduct problems, hyperactivity, total difficulties and lower scores on the subscale of prosocial behaviours (P < 0.05).
Conclusions The present study suggests that Internet addiction is not rare among Chinese adolescents. In addition, adolescents with Internet addiction possess different psychological features when compared with those who use the Internet less frequently.