Objective: Previous studies regarding Internet addiction have investigated associated psychological variables such as shyness, loneliness, self-consciousness, anxiety, depression and interpersonal relations. Few studies about the relationship between Internet Addiction and impulsivity have been done. This study aimed to assess whether Internet addiction is related to impulsivity among Chinese adolescents.
Method: This study was performed in two stages. We screened for the presence of Internet Addiction among 2620 high school students(age ranging from 12years to 18years) from four high schools of Changsha City using Diagnostic Questionnaire for Internet Addiction (YDQ). According to the modified YDQ criteria by Beard, 64 students were diagnosed as Internet addiction. Excluding current psychiatric comorbidity, 50 students who were diagnosed as Internet Addiction (mean age, 14.8+/-1.4years) and 50 normal students in Internet usage(mean age, 14.5+/-1.8years) were included in a case control study. The two groups were assessed using Barratt Impulsiveness Scale 11 (BIS-11) and behavioral measure of impulsivity (GoStop Impulsivity Paradigm).
Results: Sixty-four students met the modified YDQ criteria by Beard, of whom 14 students suffered from comorbid psychiatric disorders, especially comorbid ADHD. The Internet Addiction group had significantly higher scores on the BIS-11 subscales of Attentional key, Motor key, and Total scores than the control group (P<0.05). The Internet Addiction group scored higher than the control group on the failure to inhibit responses of GoStop Impulsivity Paradigm (P<0.05). There was a significant positive correlation between YDQ scores and BIS-11subscales and the number of failure to inhibit responses of GoStop Impulsivity Paradigm.
Conclusion: This study suggests that adolescents with Internet addiction exhibit more impulsivity than controls and have various comorbid psychiatric disorders, which could be associated with the psychopathology of Internet addiction.