Prevalence of internet addiction during the COVID-19 outbreak and its psycho-demographic risk factors in a sample of Iranian people

Document Type : Original Article


1 Department of Psychology, Islamic Azad University, Tehran Electronic Branch, Tehran, Iran

2 Neuroscience Research Center, Baqiyatallah University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran


Background: During the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been an unprecedented increase in the use of online services, providing fertile ground for Internet addiction in the community. Given the negative effects of Internet addiction on individuals and society, addressing this issue and its consequences seems crucial.
Objectives: This study aimed to investigate the prevalence of Internet addiction and psychodemographic risk factors among Iranian adults during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Methods: It was a cross-sectional, descriptive correlational study conducted from February to June 2021. A researcher-made demographic information questionnaire, the Depression, Anxiety, and Stress Scales (DASS-21), Young's Diagnostic Questionnaire (YDQ), the Corona Disease Anxiety Scale (CDAS), the Social and Emotional Loneliness Scale for Adults (SELSA-S), and the Petersburg Sleep Disorder Questionnaire (PSQI) were administered to 404 individuals (213 men and 191 women) who were internet users residing in Hamadan Province. To prevent the spread of COVID-19, accessible sampling and online survey methods were employed. The data were analyzed using Chi-square, independent t-test, and logistic regression techniques through SPSS-24 software.
Results: According to the findings, the prevalence of Internet addiction was 28.5%. Internet addiction was found to be more common among singles than married individuals (chi-square=7, p<0.000). No significant relationships were found between age, gender, educational level, and Internet addiction. A significant direct relationship was found between Internet addiction and the severity of sleep disorders (chi-square=14.14, p<0.00), depression (chi-square=24.74, p<0.000), and COVID-19 anxiety (chi-square=19.99, p<0.000). No significant association was found between feelings of loneliness and internet addiction. Both depression and sleep disorder scores were found to be significant predictors of Internet addiction, with odds ratio values of 1.07 and 1.06, respectively, indicating that an increase in depression score increases the likelihood of Internet addiction by 1.07 times (OR=1.07) and an increase in sleep disorder score increases the likelihood of Internet addiction by 1.06 times (OR=1.06).
Conclusion: Considering the high incidence of internet addiction in our current study and identifying the role of depression and sleep disorders in predicting internet addiction, it is crucial to educate the public on the potential risks associated with excessive internet usage and reduce these risk factors during the COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, given the prevalence of internet addiction after the COVID-19 pandemic, it is imperative to alleviate societal restrictions.


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