IJERPH, Vol. 16, Pages 4635: Personal Factors, Internet Characteristics, and Environmental Factors Contributing to Adolescent Internet Addiction: A Public Health Perspective (International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health)
Individual characteristics, family- and school-related variables, and environmental variables have equal importance in understanding Internet addiction. Most previous studies on Internet addiction have focused on individual factors; those that considered environmental influence typically only examined the proximal environment. Effective prevention and intervention of Internet addiction require a framework that integrates individual- and environmental-level factors. This study examined the relationships between personal factors, family/school factors, perceived Internet characteristics, and environmental variables as they contribute to Internet addiction among adolescents based on the public health model. A representative sample of 1628 junior high school students from 56 regions in Seoul and Gyeonggi-do participated in the study via questionnaires with the cooperation of the Ministry of Health and Welfare and the district office of education. The study analyzed psychological factors, family cohesion, attitudes toward academic activities, Internet characteristics, accessibility to PC cafés, and exposure to Internet game advertising. About 6% of the adolescents were categorized as being in the severely addicted group. Between-group comparisons showed that the addicted group had started using the Internet earlier; had higher levels of depression, compulsivity, and aggressiveness as well as lower family cohesion; and reported higher accessibility to PC cafés and exposure to Internet game advertising. Multiple logistic regression indicated that for adolescents, environmental factors had a greater influence than family or school-related factors. Policy implications for prevention and intervention are discussed.