Lifestyle and Depressive Risk Factors Associated With Problematic Internet Use in Adolescents in an Arabian Gulf Culture


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Abstract

Background:The use of the Internet has increased around the world but more so in the Middle Eastern countries, particularly in the Arabian Gulf region. This has also produced problematic Internet use (PIU) with potential detrimental effects on physical, mental, and psychosocial health.Aim:To determine the prevalence of PIU and its association with Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), comorbid, and lifestyle factors among adolescent and young adult (12- to 25-year-old) Qatari population.Design:A cross-sectional survey.Setting:All public and private schools and university under the Supreme Council of Education and Higher Education in Doha, Qatar.Subjects and Methods:A total of 3000 students (12-25 years of age) were selected through multistage stratified random sampling from public and private schools and university under the overall administration of Qatar Supreme Council of Education. Among them, 2298 students (76.6%) consented to participate in the study during September 2009 to October 2010. Data were collected using a structured questionnaire including sociodemographic details, lifestyle, and dietary habits. Problematic Internet use and depressive tendencies were measured through validated Internet Addiction Test (IAT) and BDI.Results:Of 2298, 71.6% were males and 28.4% were females. The overall prevalence of PIU was 17.6%. This study revealed that a significantly larger proportion of males (64.4%; P = 0.001) and Qatari students (62.9%; P < 0.001) had PIU. Students with PIU slept significantly less number of hours (6.43 ± 1.70) than non-PIU group (6.6 ± 1.80; P = 0.027). The proportion of students participating in moderate physical activity was significantly lower among those with PIU than in other group (47.8% vs 55.7%; P = 0.005). Qatari nationality (odds ratio [OR] = 1.82; P < 0.001), male sex (OR = 1.40; P < 0.001), having nonworking mother (housewife) (OR = 1.34; P = 0.009), eating fast foods (OR = 1.57; P < 0.001), and BDI score (OR = 1.14; P = 0.003) were positively associated with PIU, whereas moderate and mild physical activity were negatively associated with PIU (OR = 0.73, P = 0.002; OR, 0.77, P = 0.003, respectively).Conclusions:This study adds to the growing body of evidence linking PIU with negative lifestyle and depressive risk factors, among vulnerable adolescent and young adult. Problematic Internet use is becoming a significant public health issue that requires urgent attention.

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