Study finds 33.3% of users make excessive use of internet

Study reveals that single, well-educated respondents between ages of 18 and 21 are most likely to use internet excessively

A study by the national centre for freedom from addictions has revealed that some 33.3% of respondents registered excessive internet use and subsequently experienced problems due to their overexposure to the internet.

The centre’s chairperson Anna Maria Vella said that the study had been the first attempt to explore the prevalence of problematic internet use locally.

“Contrary to our expectations, results show that we are not presently facing internet addiction with all its consequences and the wellbeing of families is not yet threatened by technology,” Vella said during the presentation of the results earlier today.

Vella added that the majority of respondents, around 65.9%, were average internet users while only 0.8% of users were certified as problematic internet users.

“This however, does not mean that these people should be ignored, and those who use the internet excessively also need to address their issues,” she said.

According to Vella, the study, carried out between February and March this year, selected a cohort of 18 to 30 year olds, and that it ultimately had 1,507 participants, who were asked questions about why they used the internet as well as questions to illustrate their socio-demographic background.

“According to internet addiction tests carried out as part of the study, 18 to 21 year old males who were not in a relationship were more likely to make excessive use of the internet,” she said, adding that unemployment had also impinged on the results, with 39.45% of unemployed respondents registering excessive use or above average use.

Vella said that the most indicative predictors for internet addiction or excessive use were education level, marital status and age.

“The study aims to try and find the extent of the issue in Malta and to link it to certain variables, but it also aims to provide national data to contribute to a better understanding of the issue locally,” she said.

Vella also explained that internet addiction is one of the first things to be studied by the centre for freedom from addictions, which is part of the President’s foundation for the wellbeing of society, founded in June 2014 by specialists and academics in the field of addiction.