Pathological Internet Use Is on the Rise Among European Adolescents

J Adolesc Health. 2016 Aug;59(2):236-9. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2016.04.009. Epub 2016 Jun 3.


Purpose: Increased Internet accessibility has been accompanied by an increased awareness of pathological Internet use (PIU). The aim of the study was to investigate a potential increase of PIU among European adolescents.

Methods: Comparable data from two large cross-sectional multicentre, school-based studies conducted in 2009/2010 and 2011/2012 in five European countries (Estonia, Germany, Italy, Romania, and Spain) were used. The Young's Diagnostic Questionnaire was used to assess the prevalence of PIU.

Results: The comparison of the two samples provides evidence that the prevalence of PIU is on the rise (4.01%-6.87%, odds ratio = 1.69, p < .001) except in Germany. Comparison with data on Internet accessibility suggests that the rise in prevalence of adolescent PIU may be a consequence of increased Internet accessibility.

Conclusions: Our findings are the first data to confirm the rise of PIU among European adolescents. They definitively warrant further efforts in the implementation and evaluation of preventive interventions.

Keywords: Adolescents; Internet addiction; Pathological Internet use; Prevalence; SEYLE; WE-STAY.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adolescent Behavior / psychology*
  • Behavior, Addictive / epidemiology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Internet / statistics & numerical data*
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Risk-Taking
  • Sex Factors