A new study suggests teenagers with “pathologic” Internet use are more likely to admit to drug abuse.
“Not only did we find that specific personality attributes were important in both substance abuse and Internet addiction, but that Internet addiction remained an important predictor of substance abuse,” study co-author Georgios Floros told ABCNews.com.
The study, conducted by Greek researchers, included 1,271 students ages 14 to 19 on the Aegean island of Kos. They were asked about their Internet use, substance use and personality. The study included an “Internet addiction test,” which asked how often they stayed online longer than they had intended, how often their grades suffered because of the amount of time they were online, and how often they would act annoyed if someone disturbed them when they were online.
The researchers found the teens who reported substance abuse had significantly higher average scores on the Internet addiction test. Those scores were important predictors for past or present substance use, the researchers reported in the Journal of Addiction Medicine. “Targeting the adolescent population that engages in increased Internet use may be of benefit for drug abuse prevention programs,” they wrote.
The article points out that there is no agreed-upon definition of Internet addiction. The article notes the study found links between Internet use, drug use and personality type, but not a cause-and-effect relationship.
“Correlation data is not causative,” David Greenfield, founder of the Center for Internet and Technology Addiction, told ABCNews.com. “You can’t assume because the person has one marker that they’re going to have the final issue. But you do need to be aware of what your child is doing online and how much they’re doing it.”