Internet addicts may self-harm

A survey of Chinese adolescents found that teens who are addicted to the Internet are twice as likely to harm themselves as other teens.

The survey of 1,618 students aged 13 to 18 who were living in the Chinese city of Guangzhou in Guandong Province found that about 16% said they had harmed themselves in some way within the previous six months; 4.5% reported that they'd harmed themselves at least six times during that period.

Self-harm, as defined by the study, included hair pulling, hitting, deliberate burning and pinching.

The researchers, who reported their findings in the journal Injury Prevention, noted that about 90% of the survey participants were normal users of the Internet, but about 10% were moderately addicted and 0.6% were severely addicted.

 

Emotional problems when offline

Addicted teens suffered from emotional problems such as depression and nervousness when they weren't online, but felt better when they returned to the Internet, the study authors explained in a news release from the journal's publisher. Addicted teens also fantasized about or were preoccupied by being online.

After adjusting their statistics to account for the potential influence of other factors, such as health problems, the researchers found that the Internet-addicted teens were twice as likely to have harmed themselves. When they did hurt themselves, they did so more seriously than other teens. - (HealthDay News, December 2009)

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