Problematic Internet use is associated with substance use in young adolescents

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Abstract

Aim:

This study examined whether problematic Internet use was associated with substance use among young adolescents and assessed whether this association accounted for the use of tobacco, alcohol, cannabis and other drugs.

Methods:

Using the Internet Addiction Test, we divided a representative sample of 3067 adolescents in Switzerland (mean age 14 years) into regular and problematic Internet users. We performed a bivariate analysis and two logistic regression models, to analyse substances separately and simultaneously, and developed a log-linear model to define the associations between significant variables.

Results:

Problematic Internet users were more likely to be female, to use substances, to come from nonintact families, to report poor emotional well-being and to be below average students. The first model showed significant associations between problematic users and each substance, with adjusted odds ratios of 2.05 for tobacco, 1.72 for alcohol, 1.94 for cannabis and 2.73 for other drugs. Only smoking remained significant in the second model, with an adjusted odds ratio of 1.71.

Conclusion:

Problematic Internet use is associated with other risky behaviours and may be an important early predictor of adolescent substance use. Therefore, it should be included in the psychosocial screening of adolescents.

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