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Internet addiction, new challenges for educational institutes and information society to encounter


Published : 13.04.2018

The popularity, accessibility, and affordability of the internet enables people to use it for various purposes. The effective and efficient use, however, has always been questioned by parents, teachers, and researchers. Internet Addiction (IA) become a major concern since it is on the rise, which brings many social and psychological challenges. Despite the fact, that there is still some ambiguity in the definitions of internet addiction, for example, some researchers believe that the excessive use of the internet is considered as a behavioral addiction while others suspect that addiction is not applicable for social networking and chat application in mobile and internet. In this article, the term internet addiction (IA) refers to excessive internet usage.  

The impact of excessive internet usage on students’ performance has not been thoroughly investigated. However, it is obvious that any kind of addiction has a significant psychological and physical impact on the user. The purpose of this article is to raise imperative awareness of internet addiction in the future strategical planning of educational institutions.   

Internet addiction symptoms 

Tao et al. (2010) define addiction as a substance or activity that is pleasurable but continued use becomes compulsive and interferes with ordinary responsibilities. Tao, Huang, Wang, Zhang, H., Zhang Y. and Li (2010) define internet addiction as a behavioral addiction type in which the addiction is based on a reward system. Cerniglia, Zoratto, Cimino, Laviola, Ammaniti and Adriani (2017) define it as an excessive use of the internet, which is a non-chemical, behavioral addiction that involves human-computer-interaction.  

Internet addiction is categorized as a generalized or a specific form of addiction (Montag et al. 2015). In generalized addiction the person excessively uses diverse types of internet activities. In distinct forms of internet addiction, the person is addicted to a specific online activity such as video gaming, social networking, music, and sex-related activities.       

Jorgenson, Hsiao and Yen (2016) categorized the following clinical symptoms of internet addiction: compulsive use, withdrawal, tolerance, and adverse consequences. In addition to many disorders such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety, depression, and hostility. Tao et al. (2010) recommend 2+1 Rule for the diagnosis for internet addiction. The first two symptoms are preoccupation and withdrawal, and the others are at least one of the five other symptoms, which are tolerance, lack of control, continued excessive use despite negative effects/affects, loss of interest in life outside of the internet, and the use of the internet to escape or relieve a dysphoric mood.    

Social impacts of the addiction

Every type of addiction is psychologically and sociologically harmful. The Internet provides us with a wealth of resources, entertainment, and competences.  The social impact of the internet, without doubt, has been significant in all sectors of our life. It becomes a source of social activities and networking, such as Facebook and Linkedin, communication medium and instance medium, e.g., WhatsApp and Telegram, entertainment, e.g., Snapchat, Pokémon and most of as a mass media, e.g., Twitter, Instagram, etc. Despite this wealth of positive contributions, we also experience significant amount of negative experiences. Fraud, criminal acts, cyberbullying, spying, pornography, gambling, and cyber racism have been a painful experience especially in our society. The criminal activities in the internet are nowadays a huge business and the criminals target specifically vulnerable people due to the lack of competence and awareness of the dangers of the internet.    

A study  conducted in the USA examined the Facebook use of (n=1605) adults between 18-54 years. The study revealed that 21% of the participants woke up in the middle of the night to read  updates and 39% identify themselves as a Facebook addict (Abhijit 2002).

The results of internet addiction, for example, divorce, impact on the task performance at workplace, loneliness, concentration problems, and physical problems such as obesity, eyes, are on the rise.   

Educational institutes and internet addictions 

With the unprecedented growth of internet usage, internet addiction has become a major concern throughout the world in almost all sectors including educational institutes. In recent years, it has become a popular practice for the universities to pursue and investigate the level of this addiction in their students. It is obvious that any addictions, including internet addiction, impacts students’ performance and academic achievements. It is obvious that there are correlations between internet addiction and students educational withdrawal. In a recent study in Sweden (Denti et al. 2012) indicates that students spend around 81 minutes every day in Facebook and log in on average 6.1 times/day. This is an interesting topic which is worth to investigate thoroughly, especially in the degree program such as information technology where students are heavily involved with the internet and internet-based activities.     

At Haaga-Helia we have conducted research on feeling of failure and academic withdrawal impacts on students’ educational performance. Our research is based on Niemivirta (2002) motivation and performance questionnaire. It is worth to extend Niemivirta’s questionnaire from measuring the self-efficacy to also measuring the students’ internet addiction level. The results help educators to apply proper pedagogical approach to better educational performance. 


Abhijit N. 2012. Facebook Addiction. USA: Buzzle. Available from Referenced 1 Abril 2018.

Butler, A. B. 2010. Triune brain concept: A comparative evolutionary perspective. In Encyclopedia of Neuroscience (pp. 1185–1193).

Cerniglia, L., Zoratto, F., Cimino, S., Laviola, G., Ammaniti, M., & Adriani, W. 2017. Internet Addiction in adolescence: Neurobiological, psychosocial and clinical issues. Neuroscience and Biobehavioral Reviews.

Denti, L., Barbopuolos, I.,  Nilsson, I., Holmberg, L.,  Thulin, M., Wendeblad, M., Andén, L., & Davidsson, E. 20120. Sweden’s largest Facebook study.Gothenburg: University of Gothenburg.

Jorgenson, A. G., Hsiao, R. C. J., & Yen, C. F. 2016. Internet Addiction and Other Behavioral Addictions. Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Clinics of North America.

Montag C1, Bey K, Sha P, Li M, Chen YF, Liu WY, Zhu YK, Li CB, Markett S, Keiper J., & Reuter M. 2015. Is it meaningful to distinguish between generalized and specific Internet addiction? Evidence from a cross-cultural study from Germany, Sweden, Taiwan and China. Asia-Pacific Psychiatry, 7(1), 20–26.

Niemivirta, M. 2002. Motivation and performance in context: The influence of goal orientations and instructional setting on situational appraisals and task performance. Psychologia – An International Journal of Psychology in the Orient, 45(4), 250–270.

Tao, R., Huang, X., Wang, J., Zhang, H., Zhang, Y., & Li, M. 2010. Proposed diagnostic criteria for internet addiction. Addiction, 105(3), 556–564.

This article was written by Haaga-Helia’s lecturer Amir Dirin.