Internet addiction makes teens more aggressive

25 Feb 2009

Teens who spend too much time online may be prone to aggressive behaviour, a study of close to 10,000 teenagers in Taiwan has found.

The study of teenagers in Taiwan by the Kaohsiung Medical University, and published in the Journal of Adolescent Health, found that those with signs of internet addiction are more likely to say they had hit, shoved or threatened someone in the past.

The investigators took into account several other factors – including the teenagers’ scores on measures of self-esteem and depression and their exposure to TV violence.

The study found that 25pc of the boys and 13pc of the girls could be termed internet addicts based on their online and offline behaviour.

Symptoms of addiction include the obvious preoccupation with online activities; withdrawal symptoms such as irritability if online access was, for any reason, denied; and skipping physical world endeavours in favour of spending time online.

The study found that teenagers who fitted the addiction profile were generally far more aggression-prone than their peers.

The type of online activity has had a lot to do with this. Online chatting, gambling and gaming, and spending time in online forums or adult pornography sites were all linked to aggressive behaviour.

By contrast, teens who devoted time to conducting online research and study were less likely than their peers to be violence-prone.

Dr Chih-Hung Ko of the Kaohsiung Medical University said that certain online activities can encourage kids to release their anger or be aggressive in ways that they otherwise wouldn’t in the real world.

It is not clear, however, if these online activities push them to be more aggressive in real life.

By John Kennedy