Recollections of strict, unaffectionate
parents were more common among young adults with an unhealthy attachment to internet use, compared to their peers, in a new Greek study.
Young adults who recall their parents being
tough or demanding without showing affection tend to be sad or to have trouble
making friends, and those personality traits raise their risk of internet
addiction, the researchers say.
"In short, good parenting, including
parental warmth and affection, that is caring and protective parents, has been
associated with lower risk for Internet addiction," said lead author
Argyroula E Kalaitzaki of the Technological Education Institute (TEI) of Crete
in Heraklion, "whereas bad parenting, including parental control and
intrusion, that is authoritarian and neglectful parents, has been associated
with higher risk for addiction."
Read: Internet addiction may disrupt brain connections
Research still new
Research on internet addiction is
still relatively new, and there are no actual criteria for diagnosing the
disorder, though there are many inpatient and outpatient treatment facilities
in the US, Australia and Asia.
Some of the studies done to date suggest
that kids who have trouble relating to others in person might be at higher risk
for a problematically high level of internet use. Those who are socially
withdrawn or lonely might also be more likely to spend excessive time online.
Kalaitzaki's team predicted that the way
kids bonded with their parents would predict aspects of their personality as
young adults, which in turn would predict their likelihood of internet
Loneliness, sadness and anxiety
For the study, more than 700 young adults
at technical schools, all around age 20, filled out questionnaires during class
time. They answered questions about their feelings of loneliness, sadness and
anxiety, and about their internet use.
They also answered questions about how they
recalled being brought up during their first 16 years of life.
In Greece, previous studies have found that
between 1 percent and 8 percent of teens are addicted to the internet.
Read: Internet addicts risk depression
The current study classified almost 2% of
the men and 0.6% of the women as severely addicted, according to the results
published in Addictive Behaviours.
The authors did not find a link between anxiety
or loneliness and internet addiction, nor could they directly link any
particular parenting style with addiction.
But Kalaitzaki and her colleagues did find
The kids who remembered their fathers as
controlling and not affectionate tended to have more trouble relating to others
as young adults, and those who had trouble relating to others were more likely
to be addicted.
Those who remembered their mothers as just
not being very good parents were more likely to report sadness as young adults,
which was also linked to internet addiction."Parents should be made aware
of the harmful impact that a potential negative parental rearing style may have
upon their children in later life," Kalaitzaki told Reuters Health.
Kalaitzaki studies interpersonal
relationships and psychotherapy in the Department of Social Work at TEI.
Read: Social media can lead to internet addiction
Other international studies
Other international studies suggest that internet addiction may harm a person's mental and physical health, she said.
Those who go online excessively tend to be distressed, tense, nervous and
irritable, and to have trouble sleeping and fatigue.
"This discussion is of large interest
for the technological society at large, given that Internet addiction is
related to a medium present in virtually all homes and not regulated, like drugs
of abuse," George Floros, who studies the emerging addiction at Aristotle
University of Thessaloniki in Greece, told Reuters Health. "Parents would
do well to examine the kind of model they present," said Floros, an
adjunct professor of medicine.
"Being preoccupied with technology to
the detriment of social contacts is something we are seeing more frequently in
young parents and this offers a negative model for their children.
Read: More clinics to treat internet addicts
of internet addiction
"Problematic parenting can go one of
two ways, both of which might up the risk of internet addiction in theory," he
said. "Overly permissive parents might use the internet early on as a way to
give up responsibility for the kids – an unattended child in front of a
computer requires less effort from the parents than an active, present child.
"On the other hand, overly controlling
parents can end up with kids who rebel or turn inwards, which might also lead
to excessive internet use," he said.
"Parents that identify their children
to have some symptoms of addiction, like excessive time spent online or need to
spend increasingly longer periods online, inadequate sleep and fatigue, apathy,
nervousness, or irritability when offline, impairments in relationships and
schoolwork or employment, should contact a health care professional as soon as
possible," Kalaitzaki said.
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