|Image courtesy of Korea Herald|
A Japanese study conducted this year led by Dr. Hisayoshi Morioka examined the association between smoking and problematic Internet use (PIU) among adolescents. Two subcategories fall under PIU, Internet Addiction and Excessive Internet Use, and both were examined in surveys distributed to 100,050 adolescents aged 12-18 years old from 179 different middle and high schools across Japan. The purpose of this study was to clarify the association between problematic Internet use and smoking as well as improve healthcare guidance for adolescents who smoke and suffer from PIU.
For clarification purposes, excessive Internet use is defined as use of the Internet for five or more hours per day in the last 30 days. Internet addiction is indicated by affirmative responses to five or more of the eight questions on the given survey, the Young Diagnostic Questionnaire for Internet addiction. Additionally, a 12-question General Health Questionnaire was administered in order to determine a respondent's mental health status; poor mental health was defined as a score of 1 or more affirmative responses.
Chances of Problematic Internet Use Rise with Increased Cigarette Smoking
|696 students who smoked ≤ 10 per day suffer from EIU|
376 total students smoke between 11 and 20 per day
Mental Health Issues Amplify Susceptibility to Problematic Internet Use
Problematic Internet Use and Smoking Activate Identical Areas in the Brain
Current Research Hindered by Conflicting Substance Abuse, Psychiatric Disorders
While it can be inferred from Montag and Reuter's work along with the given study that smoking cigarettes leads directly to increased risk of PIU, findings from an additional Asian adolescent study depict that alcohol consumption is a more prevalent factor in students plagued with problematic Internet use; however, reasoning for this originates from the sample of students rather than direct correlation. 21.2 percent of students reported drinking alcohol while only 12.2 percent of students were smokers, yet smoking at any level presented an increased risk for Internet addiction whereas alcohol at lower levels did not correlate with greater risk for such.
Another factor that may potentially affect the legitimacy of correlations between smoking and PIU is the existence of impulse-control disorders in a portion of the respondents. Impulse-control disorders, psychiatric disorders marked by failure to resist an impulse or temptation that may harm onself or others, are reportedly associated with smoking, especially in adolescents since Internet addiction itself fits into this category. Additionally, insomnia has been linked to both smoking and PIU independently, so for future investigations, researchers ought to take into consideration the respondents' sleep habits.
Internet Addiction Epidemic Forces Detoxification Efforts
Dr. Hisayoshi Morioka's extensive study pales in comparison to the total teenage population in Japan suffering from PIU. An article from Independent Magazine notes that the Japanese government approximates the number of adolescents addicted to the Internet to be 500,000. To provide much-needed assistance to a nation rife with an unhealthy craving for screen time, digital detox centers are appearing in mass quantities where customers leave their devices at the door and are encouraged to embrace time away from the web.
This trend has prevailed particularly in Asia for quite some time with two recorded instances of death within five years in South Korea due to excessive screen time. Attempting to reverse said Internet curse, Yoneda Tomohiko, website editor for Lifehacker magazine who used to spend fifteen hours a day online, wrote a book on battling addiction to help teens understand the importance of life without screens.