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More research needed on problematic Internet use among teens

Is Internet addiction a common problem among teens? While many would quickly answer with a resounding yes, new research published in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine shows there’s no good way of measuring the prevalence of the problem. Although current U.S. data suggest that 93% of adolescents and adults between the ages of 12 and 29 years go online, relatively little research specifically focused on adolescents and Internet addiction has been conducted.

Booster Shots reports:

Even though [the researchers] found 658 articles using keywords, only 18 studies were relevant to their search. They rated the quality of those studies based on a 42-point scale, including such criteria as reporting response rates, study timing and rates of missing data. The studies' average score was an embarrassingly low 23. 

Overall, our findings suggest a paucity of empirical studies" that address problematic Internet use "among populations of U.S. adolescent and college student populations," the authors wrote. Despite initially finding more than 600 search hits on the topic of PIU, only 18 articles were identified that met inclusion criteria; less than half of these reported a prevalence estimate. We found no studies specifically targeting adolescent medicine.

The researchers also noted that the majority of the studies were conducted more than 5 years ago.

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