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Open Access Research article

Risk factors and psychosocial characteristics of potential problematic and problematic internet use among adolescents: A cross-sectional study

Georgios Kormas1, Elena Critselis2, Mari Janikian1, Dimitrios Kafetzis2 and Artemis Tsitsika1*

Author Affiliations

1 Adolescent Health Unit (A.H.U.), Second Department of Pediatrics, «P. & A. Kyriakou» Children's Hospital, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens School of Medicine, Greece

2 Second Department of Pediatrics, «P. & A. Kyriakou» Children's Hospital, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens School of Medicine, Athens, Greece

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BMC Public Health 2011, 11:595  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-11-595

Published: 27 July 2011



Problematic internet use (PIU) is associated with a plethora of psychosocial adversities. The study objectives were to assess the determinants and psychosocial implications associated with potential PIU and PIU among adolescents.


A cross-sectional study design was applied among a random sample (n = 866) of Greek adolescents (mean age: 14.7 years). Self-completed questionnaires, including internet use characteristics, Young Internet Addiction Test, and Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire, were utilized to examine the study objectives.


Among the study population, the prevalence rates of potential PIU and PIU were 19.4% and 1.5%, respectively. Multinomial logistic regression indicated that male gender (Odds Ratio, OR: 2.01; 95% Confidence Interval, 95% CI: 1.35-3.00), as well as utilizing the internet for retrieving sexual information (OR: 2.52; 95% CI: 1.53-4.12), interactive game playing (OR: 1.85; 95% CI: 1.21-2.82), and socialization, including chat-room use (OR: 1.97; 95% CI: 1.36-2.86) and email (OR: 1.53; 95% CI: 1.05-2.24), were independently associated with potential PIU and PIU. Adolescents with potential PIU had an increased likelihood of concomitantly presenting with hyperactivity (OR: 4.39; 95% CI: 2.03-9.52) and conduct (OR: 2.56; 95% CI: 1.46-4.50) problems. Moreover, adolescent PIU was significantly associated with hyperactivity (OR: 9.96; 95% CI: 1.76-56.20) and conduct (OR: 8.39; 95% CI: 2.04-34.56) problems, as well as comprehensive psychosocial maladjustment (OR: 8.08; 95% CI: 1.44-45.34).


The determinants of potential PIU and PIU include accessing the internet for the purposes of retrieving sexual information, game playing, and socialization. Furthermore, both potential PIU and PIU are adversely associated with notable behavioral and social maladjustment among adolescents.

problematic internet use; adolescent; internet; psychosocial factors; behavior; addictive