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Connected and addicted

  • Published at 12:02 am December 11th, 2016
  • Last updated at 07:34 am December 11th, 2016
Connected and addicted

Nowadays, the most readily available media to students is the internet, which in the name of academic and other purposes have compelled them to use it more. This media has not only become a good source of information regarding knowledge but also for other purposes like social communication, gaming, entertainment, and so on.

Students’ nature being more tilted to this enjoyment has enhanced the use of the internet. School students, especially the secondary level students, appear to be the population at risk in having internet addiction due to the variability in developing their cognitive control and boundary-setting skills.

Researchers found that students who have severe internet addiction have poor academic performance and mental health problems. Loneliness, staying up late, tiredness, and missing morning classes are also correlated with internet-caused impairment.

The use of the internet on school campuses and in society has increased dramatically in recent years. Younger students are more interested in the newest technology; they use the internet more often than other age groups.

Excessive use of internet among the students, who are not yet psychologically matured enough and are trying to adapt to their social environment, has put them at risk of internet addiction. Heavier recreational internet use is correlated highly with impaired academic performance, anxiety, and feelings of depression.

The Department of Public Health from North South University conducted a study with 279 secondary students from two private schools of Chittagong.

It appears that 2.51% of the students have behaviour of severe internet addiction, and 64.87% are at risk of developing such behaviour.

The students’ internet addiction was assessed through the Orman test, which consists of nine questions and provide classifications of severe, moderate, and no internet addiction.

This is an increasing concern for the health and well-being of the students. It should be considered as a public health issue in Bangladesh. Though it is unknown, a lot of crime is also found to be internet-related.

The number of internet users in Bangladesh has now crossed 60 million -- according to the 2016 statistics of telecoms regulator -- of which 35% are secondary and higher secondary students. The average size of a secondary school class in Bangladesh being approximately 50 students indicates that there may be some students in every classroom who are struggling with moderate to severe internet addiction.

To promote the best possible outcomes for students, there is a great need for early identification of the factors that are associated with internet addiction. Internet addiction among students needs attention as one of the major public health issues in Bangladesh. Addicts commonly have negative influences on their daily routine, academic performance, and relationships, as opposed to non-internet addicts.

Therefore, a preventive measure against internet addiction should be taken by considering a few factors to guarantee better quality and more equitable student performance. In our research, we found that the prevalence of internet addiction for female students is higher than male students. It may be because female students have fewer opportunities for involvement in co-curricular activities.

Students who don’t have any siblings are also found to be more at risk of developing a severe internet addiction. These students could be lonely and get easily bored, and there may not be anyone at home to relate to after school. Therefore the parents should give more time to their single child to reduce the duration of internet use.

The more relationships you have in real life, the less you will need the internet for social interaction. Grade nine students are found to be more addicted compared to grade ten students. It may be because the grade nine students have less academic involvement than grade ten students. Besides these, we found that students from Bangla medium schools are more addicted to the internet compared to English medium students.

Therefore, the schools should give importance to the students of Bangla medium studies by creating an effective atmosphere conducive to learning without the use of the internet.

The complications caused by internet addiction are becoming more common in society. Hence, there is an urgent need to address and respond to the reality of internet addiction and, subsequently, prevent its rapid expansion.

In Bangladesh, the government along with other health care organisations need to take action. Policy changes and environmentally safe interventions for students are required to improve physical activity. Finally, the students need to view the computer and the internet as a valuable supplemental tool, rather than an end-all solution.

Dr Ahmed Hossain is an Associate Professor at Department of Public Health, North South University. Dilshad Afrin and Fazle Rabbi are MPH students at Department of Public Health, North South University.