Excessive internet use in European adolescents: what determines differences in severity?

Int J Public Health. 2015 Feb;60(2):249-56. doi: 10.1007/s00038-014-0635-x. Epub 2014 Dec 23.


Objectives: This study investigated the differences between non-excessive, moderately excessive, and highly excessive internet use among adolescents. These differences were explored in terms of personal characteristics, psychological difficulties, environmental factors, and manner of internet use.

Methods: A representative sample was investigated, consisting of 18,709 adolescents aged 11-16 and their parents, from 25 European countries. Excessive internet use was measured using a five item scale covering following factors: salience, conflict, tolerance, withdrawal symptoms, and relapse and reinstatement. The main data analysis utilised multinomial and binary logistic regression models.

Results: The vast majority of respondents reported no signs of excessive internet use. Moderately excessive users (4.4%) reported higher emotional and behavioural difficulties, but also more sophisticated digital skills and a broader range of online activities. The highly excessive users (1.4%) differed from the non-excessive and moderately excessive users in their preference for online games and in having more difficulties with self-control.

Conclusions: Adolescents who struggle with attention and self-control and who are inclined toward online gaming may be especially vulnerable to the otherwise uncommon phenomenon of excessive internet use.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology*
  • Attention / physiology
  • Behavior, Addictive*
  • Child
  • Confidence Intervals
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Europe
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internet / statistics & numerical data*
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Mental Health*
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Odds Ratio
  • Risk Assessment
  • Self Concept
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Time Factors
  • Video Games / statistics & numerical data*