According to a meta-analysis of 31 nations across seven world regions, the global prevalence of internet addiction is estimated at 6 percent. The prevalence of Internet addiction varies among regions around the world, as shown by data from more than 89,000 individuals in 31 countries analyzed for a study published in Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking this month.
The authors from the University of Hong Kong describe that “societies worldwide are facing new challenges that the convenience and excitement gained through Internet use can result in individuals hooked on online activities to gratify needs. An extreme form of this phenomenon is known as Internet addiction (IA), an impulse control problem characterized by an inability to inhibit Internet use that exerts an adverse impact on major life domains (e.g., interpersonal relations, physical health).”
Although IA is not in DSM-5 it has been associated with disorders related to substance and behavioral addiction and “is often comorbid with mental disorders, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and depression.” The IA prevalence rate was more than threefold higher than that of pathological gambling another impulse control disorder. The researchers also noted that there were considerable differences in the prevalence figures across world regions. The authors reported that the countries that demonstrated a perception of less life satisfaction in general, greater overall pollution (primarily air pollution), greater traffic commute time consumption, and lower national income. They conclude that “taken together, these results provided tentative support for the quality of (real) life hypothesis, which proposed an inverse link between IA prevalence and quality of (real) life.”