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Internet Addicted Teens Twice as Likely to Harm Themselves

posted 10:38 PM EST, Wed December 02, 2009
Internet Addicted Teens Twice as Likely to Harm Themselves © Photo Credit: Enviied

In China, teens who can’t get off the computer are twice as likely to cut, burn, hit or otherwise harm themselves.

Researchers out of Sydney and Notre Dame Universities say that teens with internet addiction are twice as likely to engage in frequent self harm behaviors.

To determine this linkage, the researchers screened 1618 teens in Guangzhou China for internet addiction and self harm behaviors.

The Results

  • Roughly 10% of the teens screened had an addiction to the internet, a disorder characterized by symptoms such as feeling depressed when not online and feeling cravings to get online.
  • Teens that were addicted to the internet were twice as likely to have harmed themselves 5 or more times in the previous 6 months (high levels of self harm). For the purpose of this study, self harm was defined as hitting, burning, cutting or pinching oneself, amongst other actions. This doubling of risk was maintained even after possible confounding variables, such as a lack of sleep, or stressful life events, were accounted for.
  • In all, 1 teen in 6 admitted to at least some level of self harm behaviors.

Previous research studies have found a link between internet addiction and other addictions and or psychiatric problems, such as depression.

The researchers stress that although they have found a solid link between internet addiction and self harming, they cannot say that one causes the other. In the journal Injury Prevention, the study authors write, "Internet addiction and self-injurious behaviour 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."

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