Internet use among Italian students: usefulness of Internet Addiction Test

A. Iannitelli 1 3, S. Parnanzone  1 2, A. Quartini 1, D. Gianfelice 2, G. Pizziconi 1 2, D. Serrone 1 2, N. Massari 1, G. Riccobono 1, F. Pacitti 1 2

1Department of Biotechnological and Applied Clinical Sciences, University of L’Aquila, Italy; 2 Psychiatry Unit San Salvatore Hospital, L’Aquila, Italy; 3 Italian Psychoanalytical Society (SPI), Rome and International Psychoanalytical Association (IPA), London, UK

In the last years, scientific interest has grown towards new types of addiction, especially the Internet Addiction (IA). The IA is characterized by the continuous and compulsive use of the internet, causing significant consequences to everyday life. The IA is not included in the latest Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). 

An excessive use of the internet can have major consequences: loss of sleep time, worse working or school outcomes, progressive detachment from real relationships, isolation, loss of interest and irritability. The most widely used instrument to assess IA is the Internet Addiction Test (IAT), introduced by Kimberly Young; however, different factor structures were reported for the instrument.

The aim of this study was to analyse the prevalence of IA among 200 Italian university students (F = 100, M = 100; aged 19-40) using the IAT. Our findings indicate that the 9% (18 subjects) has a moderate risk to develop the IA, but no subjects obtained a test score between 80 and 100. The correct use of internet is present in the 23% of the sample (46 subjects), whereas the 68% (136 subjects) spend great amounts of time online. The collected data were analysed using the Italian two-factor structure model, according to Servidio et al. Our results confirm higher levels of problematic internet use in male than in female subjects and among young compared to older people. According to our results, however, the youth age is stronger than male gender in determining the level of problematic internet use. In addition, higher rates of problematic Internet use are present in young girls compared to old girls, while in male subjects the problematic internet use is independent from youth age or adulthood. As far as we are aware no previous studies analysed the relationship between the IAT factors (interpersonal, emotional and obsessive conflict, online time management and compromised personal wellbeing), age and gender.

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