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Available online at www.sciencedirect.com Computers in Human Behavior Computers in Human Behavior 24 (2008) 2597–2619

Available online at www.sciencedirect.com

Available online at www.sciencedirect.com Computers in Human Behavior Computers in Human Behavior 24 (2008) 2597–2619
Available online at www.sciencedirect.com Computers in Human Behavior Computers in Human Behavior 24 (2008) 2597–2619

Computers in

Human Behavior

Computers in Human Behavior 24 (2008) 2597–2619 www.elsevier.com/locate/comphumbeh

24 (2008) 2597–2619 www.elsevier.com/locate/comphumbeh Factor structure for Young’s Internet Addiction Test: A

Factor structure for Young’s Internet Addiction Test: A confirmatory study

Man Kit Chang * , Sally Pui Man Law

Department of Finance and Decision Sciences, School of Business Hong Kong Baptist University, Kowloon Tong, Kowloon, Hong Kong

Available online 14 April 2008

Abstract

A number of diagnostic scales have been developed in recent years to assess Internet addiction. To better understand the structure, validity, and reliability of such assessment instruments, Young’s Internet Addiction Test (IAT) was evaluated using a confirmatory approach. Data collected through a survey of 410 Hong Kong university undergraduates was subjected to exploratory factor analysis and data from a hold-out sample was analyzed using confirmatory factor analysis in order to assess the psychometric properties and factor structure of the IAT scale. Three dimensions, namely, ‘‘Withdrawal and Social Problems , ‘‘Time Management and Performance , and ‘‘Reality Substitute were extracted. These dimensions were then correlated with a number of criterion variables, including academic performance, online activities, gender, and Internet usage. The results show that academic perfor- mance was negatively correlated with the Internet addiction scores. The degree of Internet addiction was also found to vary across different types of online activity, with people engaged in cyberrelation- ships and online gambling having higher Internet addiction scores. 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Keywords: Internet addiction; Young’s Internet Addiction Test; Confirmatory factor analysis

1. Introduction

The 21st century promises to be a digital era when technologies, especially the Internet will have a profound influence on daily life. The Internet has already changed our life

* Corresponding author. Tel.: +852 3411 7564; fax: +852 3411 5585. E-mail address: mkchang@hkbu.edu.hk (M.K. Chang).

0747-5632/$ - see front matter 2008 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

doi:10.1016/j.chb.2008.03.001

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enormously, and the benefits brought about by such a powerful tool are obvious to all. Nevertheless, many studies have suggested that people may use the Internet addictively and that this can exert harmful effects on individuals, altering their social behavior, habits and abilities in a negative way ( Chen, Tarn, & Han, 2004; Stanton, 2002; Young, 2004 ). Researchers studying the problems related to Internet use have adopted different termi- nologies such as Internet addiction, Internet addiction disorder, Internet dependence, problematic Internet use, or pathological Internet use to describe the negative effects of excessive Internet use on personal lives (Chen et al., 2004; Chou & Hsiao, 2000; Davis, 2001; Goldberg, 1995; Griffiths, 1998; Kandell, 1998; Morahan-Martin & Schumacher, 2000; Scherer, 1997; Shaffer, 1996; Young, 1998a ). Young (1996) has linked excessive Internet use to DSM-IV criteria ( American Psychiatric Association, 1994 ) and considered it a behavioral addiction similar to pathological gambling. She characterizes Internet addiction as an impulse-control disorder that mainly involves psychological dependence on the Internet ( Young, 2004 ). Although there is no standard definition to date, the phe- nomenon is commonly conceptualized as the compulsive behavior and cognitions associ- ated with Internet use which results in marked distress in daily life ( Caplan, 2002; Shapira, Goldsmith, Keck, Khosla, & McElroy, 2000; Young, 1996 ). Increased interest in Internet addiction has prompted the development of instruments like the Internet Addiction Test (Young, 1998a ), the Pathological Internet Use scale ( Mor- ahan-Martin & Schumacher, 2000 ), and the Generalized Problematic Internet Use Scale (Caplan, 2002 ) for assessing Internet use behavior. To better understand the phenomenon, it is crucial to establish the validity and reliability of such instruments. This study attempted to evaluate one of the instruments: Young’s (1998a) Internet Addiction Test (IAT). Young and her associates have done a lot of work on defining Internet addiction (Yel- lowlees & Marks, 2007 ), and the IAT is one of the early diagnostic scales that has been developed. Although the IAT was developed ten years ago, it is still employed in recent studies to investigate important phenomena such as the relationship between different kinds of addictions ( Pallanti, Bernardi, & Quercioli, 2006 ), psychiatric comorbidity (Ha et al., 2006; Yang, Choe, Baity, Lee, & Cho, 2005 ), and other correlates with Internet addiction ( Ferraro, Caci, D’Amico, & Di Blasi, 2007; Li & Chung, 2006 ). The IAT has demonstrated strong internal reliability across studies (e.g., Widyanto & McMurran, 2004; Yang, 2001; Yang et al., 2005; Young, 1998a ). While the overall reli- ability of the IAT scale as measured by Cronbach’s alpha has been good in these stud- ies, there is a paucity of research that assesses the factor structure of the IAT, and thus analyzes Internet addiction as a multi-dimensional construct. Dimensionality assessment is important because the definition of instrument structure is a prerequisite to subse- quent instrument refinement and failure to identify the dimensionality of the scale may lead to inaccurate specifications of theories (Smith & McCarthy, 1995 ). Moreover, the subscales can provide a greater level of detail than just utilizing Internet addiction as one overall concept. For instance, people may suffer different severity of negative impacts in different aspects of Internet addiction. Knowing this helps us to focus treat- ments on the area that requires special attention. Consequently, the factor scores can provide information beyond that obtained from the global score of the entire scale (Floyd & Widaman, 1995 ). Despite its importance, at the time of our study, only one study with a small sample size of 86 participants could be found to investigate the dimensionality of the IAT (Widyanto

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& McMurran, 2004 ). Hence, the present study aimed to examine, refine and validate the dimensionality of the IAT instrument using a confirmatory approach.

2. Prior research

Over the years, researchers have devised different kinds of measurements to operation- alize the concept of Internet addiction and related concepts (see Appendices A and B). Some of these measurements were built upon the ideas of mental disorder, with items adapted from the diagnostic criteria of DSM-IV (American Psychiatric Association, 1994 ), whereas others were based on certain theoretical perspectives like the cognitive- behavioral model ( Davis, 2001 ). Besides, there are others which were developed from case studies, experts’ opinions or published literature on the symptoms of Internet addiction. Most assessment tools developed in the early stages were based on the behavioral cri- teria for substance abuse or substance dependence in the DSM-IV. They were usually designed as a set of diagnostic criteria or checklists to describe the phenomenon of Internet addiction and distinguish people having Internet-related addictive behaviors ( Chou, Con- dron, & Belland, 2005 ). Some of these examples include Goldberg’s (1995) Internet addic- tion disorder diagnostic criteria (IADDC), Brenner’s (1997) Internet-Related Addictive Behavior Inventory (IRABI), and Scherer’s (1997) Clinical Symptoms of Internet Depen- dency (CSID). The notion of impulse-control disorder and pathological gambling is also a foundation upon which the measurements were built. For example, borrowing from the DSM-IV cri- teria for pathological gambling, Young (1998b) developed the Diagnostic Questionnaire (YDQ) to survey the world-wide prevalence of Internet addiction and distinguish Internet addicts from other Internet users. In a later study, Young (1998a) expanded her YDQ and constructed a Likert scale assessment called the Internet Addiction Test (IAT). The IAT scale comprises 20 items (as shown in Appendix D ) which assess the severity of any neg- ative consequences arising from excessive Internet use. These items cover an individual’s Internet use habits, his/her thoughts about the Internet as well as the related problems of Internet use. For each item, a graded response (1 = ‘‘not at all to 5 = ‘‘always ) can be selected and the higher summed item scores represent higher levels of Internet addiction. Problematic Internet Use Questionnaire (PIUQ) was developed on the basis similar to that of the IAT. According to Thatcher and Goolam (2005b) , the measurement items of PIUQ were derived from the pathological gambling questionnaire (Lesieur & Blume, 1987 ), Young’s (1996) criteria for Internet addiction as well as published literature on the symptoms of Internet addiction. Validating the PIUQ on a sample of online respon- dents, Thatcher and Goolam (2005b) suggested that this instrument could measure Inter- net addiction from three dimensions, namely, online preoccupation, adverse effects, and social interactions. Some researchers attempted to design the measurements rooted in theoretical perspec- tives other than the DSM-IV criteria. For example, based on the cognitive-behavioral model ( Davis, 2001 ) derived from psychopathology, Davis, Flett, and Besser (2002) con- structed the Online Cognitive Scale (OCS) to measure pathological Internet use. They per- formed confirmatory factor analysis on a sample of university students and identified four

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dimensions (diminished impulse control; loneliness/depression; social comfort; distrac- tion) for the OCS. Also based on the cognitive-behavioral approach, Caplan (2002) devel- oped the Generalized Problematic Internet Use Scale (GPIUS) and discovered seven dimensions (mood alteration; social benefits; negative outcomes; compulsive use; excessive time online; withdrawal; social control) for this instrument. Moreover, there are some measurements that were developed from case studies, experts’ opinions or published literature on Internet addiction, such as Griffiths’s (1998) Addiction Components Criteria, and the Pathological Use Scale (PUS) devised by Morahan-Martin and Schumacher (2000) . Instruments along this vein also include those developed from a factor-analytic approach. For example, using the published lit- erature on the common diagnostic criteria for Internet addiction, Lin and Tsai (2002) designed the Internet addiction scale for Taiwanese high school students (IAST) and have found four dimensions (tolerance; compulsive use and withdrawal; family, school and health problems; interpersonal and financial problems) for this instrument. Besides, based on the items derived from experts’ opinions, Ceyhan, Ceyhan, and Guˆ rcan (2007) generated the Problematic Internet Usage Scale (PIUS) to assess problematic Internet use for university students. From their results of exploratory factor analysis, they iden- tified three dimensions (negative consequences; social benefit/social comfort; excessive use) for the PIUS. Although the above-mentioned instruments were developed from different theoretical perspectives and operationalization procedures, our analysis of the literature (see Appen- dix C ) has revealed certain similarities among the identified dimensions of Internet addic- tion. Referring to the instruments that measure Internet addiction as a multi-faceted construct – OCS ( Davis et al., 2002 ); GPIUS (Caplan, 2002 ); IAST ( Lin & Tsai, 2002 ); PIUQ ( Thatcher & Goolam, 2005b ); PIUS ( Ceyhan et al., 2007 ), the following dimensions are found similar across these instruments:

Compulsive Internet use and excessive time spent online: extent of compulsive Internet use and failure to control the amount of time spent on the Internet. Withdrawal symptoms: feelings of difficulties, depression or moodiness when being restricted from Internet use. Using the Internet for social comfort: using the Internet to seek social comfort and dis- position toward using online social interaction to replace real-life interpersonal activities. Negative consequences related to Internet use: the negative outcomes such as social, academic, or work-related problems resulting from Internet use.

The foregoing discussion indicates that recent instrument developments have explored the multi-dimensional nature of Internet addiction and related constructs. Although the dimensionality of IAT has not been assessed when it was developed, Widyanto and McMurran’s (2004) study has extracted six factors – salience, excess use, neglecting work, anticipation, lack of self-control, and neglecting social life – from the 20-item IAT and found that these factors had moderate to good internal consistency (Cronbach’s alphas ranged from .54 to.82). While this study has provided some insights into the structure of IAT, one limitation of the study was the small sample size it utilized, as only 86 partic- ipants were recruited through the Internet to fill out the Web-based questionnaire. As mentioned, knowing the dimensions of a measurement instrument is important; the

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current study, thus, attempted to further investigate the factorial structure of IAT and examine how the dimensions may correlate with a number of criterion variables. Some criterion variables that have been widely studied include the amount of time peo- ple spend online, their experience of using the Internet, the negative impacts of Internet addiction on their performances, and the differences in the severity of addictive behavior between genders, or among people involved in different types of Internet activities. Internet usage has been regarded as an important indicator of Internet addiction, with many studies demonstrating a correlation between the amount of time spent online and the risk of having addictive behaviors ( Brenner, 1997; Chou & Hsiao, 2000; LaRose, Lin, & Eastin, 2003; Leung, 2004; Liang, 2003; Lin & Tsai, 2002; Morahan-Martin & Schumacher, 2000; Suhail & Bargees, 2006; Thatcher & Goolam, 2005a; Wang, 2001; Young, 1998b ). Yet, researchers have argued that the amount of time spent online may not be a sufficient condition to determine Internet addiction as people can use the Internet for different purposes ( Hansen, 2002 ). For example, the extent of addictive behavior could be quite different for people using the Internet for work purposes and for those using it for personal entertainment ( Widyanto & McMurran, 2004 ). Prior studies have also investigated whether individuals’ addictive behaviors will fade out when they become more experienced in using the Internet. However, the findings are still inconclusive. While some researchers have found that beginners are more likely to get addicted to the Internet than experienced users (Kraut et al., 1998; Widyanto & McMurran, 2004; Young, 1998b ), others have shown that there is no difference between these two groups in terms of the severity of addictive behaviors (Leung, 2004; Thatcher & Goolam, 2005a ). Moreover, Internet addiction can interfere with one’s academic performance and daily life routines (Chou & Hsiao, 2000; Scherer, 1997; Yoo et al., 2004 ). Prior studies have shown that students were vulnerable to Internet addiction and they might use the Inter- net excessively and ignore their schoolwork ( Chou, 2001; Nalwa & Anand, 2003; Tsai & Lin, 2003 ). In Young’s (1998b) study, she found that the student respondents encoun- tered work or school-related problems because they had spent too much time on the Internet. Gender difference is another area that has interested the researchers. Although many studies have investigated this issue, researchers cannot reach an agreement on which gen- der represents a high-risk group of having Internet-related addictive behaviors. While some studies have shown that Internet addicts tended to comprise females (Leung, 2004; Young, 1998b ), other findings have indicated that males were more inclined to develop Internet addiction than females ( Chou & Hsiao, 2000; Liang, 2003; Scherer,

1997 ).

In addition, previous studies have demonstrated that people might not be addicted to the Internet itself but to particular Internet activities. Research findings showed that inter- active functions of the Internet were related to the negative impacts of excessive Internet use and people involved in online interactive applications tended to exhibit addictive behaviors ( Davis et al., 2002; Leung, 2004; Li & Chung, 2006 ). For instance, Young (1998b) noticed that Internet addicts were attracted to the social support functions of the Internet. Moreover, Thatcher and Goolam (2005a) found that people belonging to the high-risk group of Internet addiction were inclined to play online interactive games and use Internet communication tools. They also found that online gambling was one of the favorite activities for the high-risk group.

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In the next section, the methods employed in the current study to investigate the facto- rial structure of the IAT, and the correlations between the identified IAT dimensions and the above-discussed criterion variables are described.

3. Method

The questionnaires used in the current study were bilingual (both English and Chinese were shown on the questionnaires). The English and Chinese versions of the Internet Addiction Test (IAT) were adopted from Young (1998a, 2000). Participants were also asked to provide information on their gender, age, educational background, academic per- formance, weekly Internet usage, Internet experience, and the type of Internet activity in which they frequently engaged. The participants in this study were undergraduates at eight universities in Hong Kong:

the University of Hong Kong (HKU), the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK), the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST), the Hong Kong Polytechnic University (POLYU), the Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU), the City University of Hong Kong (CITYU), Lingnan University (LU), and the Hong Kong Institute of Educa- tion (HKIED). Over a 6-week data collection period, 480 paper-based questionnaires were evenly dis- tributed to the eight universities. In each university, participants were recruited in campus libraries, canteens, computer centers and student hostels. The questionnaires were given to students who had agreed to participate in the survey; the students were given about 20 minutes to fill out the questionnaires by themselves; and the questionnaires were then collected from the students after they finished filling in the questionnaires. A total of 410 usable questionnaires were returned, yielding an effective response rate of 87.5%. Among the respondents, 187 were males and 223 were females, with the number of participants rather evenly distributed among the eight universities. (The school shares ran- ged from 11.5% to 15.1%.) The sample included students majoring in diverse areas of study such as philosophy, arts, law, business administration, social sciences, mathematics, natural sciences, medicine, and computer science.

4. Analysis and results

The responses were subjected to factor analyses to examine the psychometric properties of the Internet Addiction Test scale. The original data set (n = 410) was randomly divided into two equal subsamples, one for exploratory factor analysis (EFA) and the other for confirmatory factor analysis (CFA). The EFA was conducted first to identify the under- lying structure of the IAT scale. Then, CFA was performed to validate the results of the EFA. Having completed the validation process, the next step in the analysis was to test whether Internet addiction scores correlated with academic performance, Internet usage, and Internet experience. To test if Internet addiction varied across genders and across different types of Internet activities, multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) was used.

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4.1. Exploratory factor analysis

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Data from the first subsample ( n = 205) were submitted to EFA to investigate the dimensionality of the IAT scale. Principal components factor analysis with promax rota- tion was used. The promax rotation, an oblique rotation, was used because it is reasonable to assume that any extracted factors relevant to Internet addiction should be inter-corre- lated. Eigenvalues and Scree plots were used to determine the number of factors to be extracted. Initially, the full set of IAT items, i.e., all 20 items presented in Appendix D , were sub- jected to factor analysis. Using the latent root criterion for retaining factors with Eigen- values greater than 1.0 and the Scree plot, a four-factor structure was identified, with the extracted factors explaining 59.3% of the total variance. However, only one item loaded on Factor 4. That item was ‘‘How often do you check your e-mail before some- thing else that you need to do? While other items are measuring something quite general about the use of the Internet, the item ‘‘How often do you check your e-mail before some- thing else that you need to do? is measuring the usage of a particular kind of application. That may be the reason why it is loaded on its own factor. Since people may use the Inter- net for different purposes like instant messaging and online games, combined with the fact that email becomes an important means of communication, the item may not be a very good indicator of Internet addiction nowadays. Therefore, this item was discarded and the remaining 19 items were submitted to another principal component factor analysis. The second factor analysis resulted in three factors. However, ‘‘How often do you find yourself anticipating when you will go online again? (Q11) did not load highly on any of these three factors and consequently was removed. The deletion of the item was based on the empirical indicator of factor loadings. As IAT is still at the early stage of dimension- ality assessment, empirically based item inclusion and exclusion were used in order to enhance its reliability and validity ( Smith & McCarthy, 1995 ). The final factor analysis resulted in the 18-item, three-factor structure shown in Table 1 , with all factor loadings lower than .40 suppressed. The factor solution extracted 57.1% of the variance. Given the sample size of 205 and a .05 alpha level, a factor loading of .40 or higher was consid- ered significant (Hair, Anderson, Tatham, Black, & Babin, 2006 ). Based on such a thresh- old, each item loaded significantly on only one factor, except for ‘‘How often do you form new relationships with fellow online users? (Q4). Nevertheless, as Q4 loaded much more heavily on Factor 1, this item was interpreted as belonging to Factor 1 in the subsequent analysis.

4.2. Confirmatory factor analysis

To verify the factor structure identified through EFA, CFA was performed on the hold- out sample (n = 205) using LISREL 8.8 software. The 18 IAT items were modeled as reflective indicators of the extracted factors. Variances for the three factors were fixed to one and the factors were allowed to correlate freely in the CFA model. The maximum likelihood approach was adopted for model estimation, with the item covariance matrix as input data. The result is presented in Table 2 . Goodness-of-fit was assessed using a number of fit indices, including chi-square, RMSEA, CFI, NNFI and SRMR. The cut-off criteria for the fit indices were based on the guidelines suggested by Hair et al. (2006) . To demonstrate good fit, the chi-square

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Table 1 Exploratory factor analysis for a reduced set of IAT items (Q7 and Q11 dropped)

Item number

Promax-rotated loadings factor

Communality

1

23

Q3

.69

.55

Q4

.75

.44

.52

Q5

.44

.42

Q9

.59

.61

Q13

.67

.50

Q15

.85

.62

Q18

.72

.68

Q19

.58

.50

Q20

.64

.56

Q1

.80

.61

Q2

.50

.50

Q6

.69

.66

Q8

.86

.67

Q16

.64

.61

Q17

.73

.68

Q10

.42

.49

Q12

.82

.66

Q14

.58

.45

Sum of squares (eigenvalue) Percentage of variance explained

7.84

1.33

1.10

10.27

43.57

7.40

6.11

57.07

Factor loadings lower than .40 were suppressed.

Table 2 Results of the confirmatory factor analysis

Item number

Factor

 

123

Q3

.68

Q4

.59

Q5

.68

Q9

.72

Q13

.67

Q15

.74

Q18

.76

Q19

.59

Q20

.76

Q1

.62

Q2

.71

Q6

.77

Q8

.72

Q16

.74

Q17

.80

Q10

.63

Q12

.55

Q14

.55

Variance extracted

.48

.53

.33

Construct reliability

.89

.87

.60

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statistic for our measurement model normalized by degrees of freedom ( v 2 /df) should not exceed 3.0. Also, the values of CFI and NNFI should be .95 or higher whereas the values of RMSEA and SRMR should not exceed .08. For the current CFA model, v 2 /df was 1.86 ( v 2 = 246.01; df = 132); the CFI was .98; the NNFI was .98; the RMSEA was .07 and the SRMR was .05, indicating adequate model fit. Further, the diagnostic measures – the com- pletely standardized loadings, standardized residuals and modification indices – indicated that no substantial improvement could be made to the model. Thus, the CFA result cross- validated the three-factor structure devised in the exploratory factor analysis. The convergent validity of the 18-item, three-factor model was then evaluated. Factor loadings were high for all the IAT items and significant at an alpha level of .05. The com- posite reliability and average variance extracted of Factor 1 and Factor 2 showed that these two factors exhibited adequate reliability. However, the values for Factor 3 were rel- atively low, implying that the correlations between this factor and other variables will be attenuated by the moderate construct reliability. Although the correlations should be higher if we have scales that are totally reliable, this should not affect the conclusions drawn from the results of our analysis in the later sections. Discriminant validity was assessed using a series of chi-square difference tests ( Bollen, 1989 ) in which the v 2 of an unconstrained CFA model (with all factors freely correlated) was compared with that of a constrained model (with the correlation of two factors set equal to one). Discriminant validity between the constrained pair of factors was indicated by a significant v 2 change. According to Table 3 , the chi-square differences due to the added constraint were all significant, i.e., the constrained model fit less well than the unconstrained one. This implied that the three factors exhibit discriminant validity. The correlations among the measurement model constructs were then analyzed. Table 4 shows the inter-factor correlation matrix. From the table it is clear that the three IAT fac- tors had fairly high and significant positive correlations (ranging from .83 to .88). This may suggest a second-order overall factor of Internet addiction that can account for the covariances of the first level factors. Accordingly, a second-order factor structure was tested and the result is shown in Fig. 1 . The second-order factor structure demonstrated an adequate fit ( v 2 /df = 1.86; CFI = .98; NNFI = .98; RMSEA = .07 and SRMR = .05). Since the fit indices for the first- and second-order models were almost identical, the second-order model was accepted because it is more parsimonious ( Chang, Torkzadeh, & Dhillon, 2004; Segars & Grover, 1998 ). Anderson and Gerbing (1988) have suggested that in order to support the appro- priateness of the second-order model, all the factor loadings of the first-order factors on the second-order factor (the gamma coefficients) should be high and significant. Fig. 1 clearly shows that all the gamma values were very high and significant, supporting the

Table 3 Chi-square tests of discriminant validity

Constrained factor covariance

v 2

df

D v 2

None Factor 1 and Factor 2 Factor 1 and Factor 3 Factor 2 and Factor 3

246.01

132

293.06

133

47.05

*

250.96

133

4.95

*

254.73

133

8.74 *

* p < .05.

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Table 4 IAT factor correlation matrix

Factor 1 Factor 2 * Factor 2 .88 Factor 3 .88 * .83 * *
Factor 1
Factor 2
*
Factor 2
.88
Factor 3
.88 *
.83 *
* p < .05.
Internet
Addiction
.97*
.91*
.91*
Time
Withdrawal &
Reality
Management &
Social Problems
Substitute
Performance
.76
.68 .59
.59
.80
.68
.62
.74
.71
.55
.72
.67
.74
.76
.77
.72
.63
.55
Q3
Q4
Q5
Q9
Q13
Q15
Q18
Q19
Q20
Q1
Q2
Q6
Q8
Q16
Q17
Q10
Q12
Q14

Fig. 1. Second-order measurement model for the IAT instrument.

convergent validity of the first-order factors with respect to the second-order factor. This implies that Internet addiction can be characterized by the confirmed three dimensions, while an overall Internet addiction factor captures a meaning common to all the dimensions.

4.3. Interpretation of the factors

On the basis of this validated factor model, the analysis proceeded to examine the con- tent of the 18 IAT items, which then resulted in assigning the labels ‘‘Withdrawal and Social Problems , ‘‘Time Management and Performance , and ‘‘Reality Substitute to the three factors respectively. Factor 1, ‘‘Withdrawal and Social Problems , captures one’s degree of moodiness or difficulties when constrained to be away from the Internet (e.g., ‘‘Q20: How often do you feel depressed, moody or nervous when you are offline, which goes away once you are back online? ). This factor also includes items focusing on interpersonal problems due to Internet use (e.g., ‘‘Q13: How often do you snap, yell, or act annoyed if someone bothers you while you are online? ). Factor 2, ‘‘Time Management and Performance involves the degree of compulsive Internet use and one’s failure to control or reduce the amount of time spent online (e.g., ‘‘Q17: How often do you try to cut down the amount of time you spend online and fail? ). It also covers academic (or, by extension, work) performance problems (e.g., ‘‘Q6: How often do your grades or school work suffer because of the amount of time you spend online? ).

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Factor 3, ‘‘Reality Substitute mainly describes the extent to which an individual regards the Internet environment as another reality and over-depends on it for relieving real-life problems (e.g., ‘‘Q12: How often do you fear that life without the Internet would be boring, empty, and joyless? ). The aggregated item scores from the refined IAT instrument represent a person’s over- all Internet addiction level while the summed item score for each factor reflects the severity of addictive behavior in the corresponding area. Both the total IAT score and factor scores were then further analyzed.

4.4. Internet addiction and other criterion variables

The scores of the three extracted factors and the total IAT score were used to analyze the relationship between the dimensions of Internet addiction and the criterion variables previously discussed.

4.4.1. Internet usage, Internet experience and academic performance

Correlations among the three IAT factors, total IAT score, weekly Internet usage, years of Internet experience and academic performance were computed. As shown in Table 5 , no significant correlation between Internet experience and Internet addiction was identified. Weekly Internet usage was positively but weakly related to the ‘‘Reality Substitute factor. This suggests that a person who uses the Internet to substitute real-life experiences tends to spend more time online. Academic performance was found to be negatively correlated with all IAT factors and the total IAT score, suggesting that people who have poor aca- demic performance also have higher levels of Internet addiction. Since this is a correla- tional study, it is not possible to determine whether the students have poor academic performance because they are addicted to the Internet or they are addicted because they have poor academic performance.

4.4.2. Gender and Internet activity

Using the total IAT score and the scores of the three IAT factors as dependent vari- ables, a 2 7 multivariate analysis of variance (MANOVA) was performed to test for sig- nificant score differences between genders and in terms of seven types of Internet activity. Activity 1: Chat room, E-mail, instant messaging, newsgroup, etc. Activity 2: Cyberrelationship

Table 5 Correlations among Internet addiction, Internet usage, Internet experience and academic performance

 

Internet usage (hours/ week)

Internet experience

Academic

(years)

performance

Withdrawal and social problems .02

.05

.26

*

Time management and performance Reality substitute Total IAT score

.02

.04

.14

*

.13 *

.02

.31

.25 *

*

.05

.01

* p < .05.

2608 M.K. Chang, S.P. Man Law / Computers in Human Behavior 24 (2008) 2597–2619

Activity 3: Gaming, interactive gaming Activity 4: Online gambling Activity 5: Online shopping, auction Activity 6: Information searching Activity 7: Simply Web surfing

Two additional activities, ‘‘Cybersex and ‘‘Otherswere included initially but had to be deleted from the analysis because the sample size for each of them was lower than the number of dependent variables. Table 6 displays the MANOVA results. As illustrated by the multivariate and univar- iate test results, the interaction effect was not significant and neither was the main effect for gender. Yet, Internet activity had a significant main effect in terms of all the addiction scores, both as a set and separately. This means the addiction scores vary significantly among the seven types of activity. To check in what way the activities differ, a post hoc test using Tukey’s HSD method was also conducted. The homogeneous subsets resulting from the test are shown in Table 7 , with the types of activity which had no significantly different Inter- net addiction scores being grouped in the same subset column. For ‘‘Time Manage- ment and Performance , the resulted single subset shows that people encounter time control and work performance problems to a similar degree no matter which Internet activity they emphasize. The ‘‘Total IAT Score data show that those students willing to admit that they engaged in cyberrelationships and online gambling had higher IAT scores than those claiming to engage primarily in Internet communications like chat rooms or email, shop- ping or searching for information. The ‘‘Withdrawal and Social Problems mean score was likewise higher for people claiming cyberrelationships and online gambling than for those professing to be occupied primarily by other kinds of Internet activity. These find-

Table 6 MANOVA tests for group differences in levels of internet addiction

Group effect and dependent variable

Statistical tests

Pillai’s trace ( F )

Univariate ( F )

Gender Withdrawal and social problems Time management and performance Reality substitute Total IAT score

2.01

 

1.08

3.30

0.06

1.52

Internet activity Withdrawal and social problems Time management and performance Reality substitute Total IAT score

3.53 *

 

6.09

*

4.19

*

4.69

*

5.78 *

Gender Internet activity Withdrawal and social problems Time management and performance Reality substitute Total IAT score

1.18

 

0.62

0.66

0.86

0.44

* p < .05.

M.K. Chang, S.P. Man Law / Computers in Human Behavior 24 (2008) 2597–2619

Table 7 Homogeneous subsets resulting from Tukey HSD tests

2609

Dependent variable and Internet activity

N

Subset

 

123

Withdrawal and social problem Chat room, E-mail, instant messaging, newsgroup, etc. Cyberrelationship Gaming, interactive gaming Online gambling Online shopping, auction Information searching Simply Web surfing

Time management and performance Chat room, E-mail, instant messaging, newsgroup, etc. Cyberrelationship Gaming, interactive gaming Online gambling Online shopping, auction Information searching Simply Web surfing

Reality substitute Chat room, E-mail, instant messaging, newsgroup, etc. Cyberrelationship Gaming, interactive gaming Online gambling Online shopping, auction Information searching Simply Web surfing

Total IAT score Chat room, E-mail, instant messaging, newsgroup, etc. Cyberrelationship Gaming, interactive gaming Online gambling Online shopping, auction Information searching Simply Web surfing

176

18.24

11

26.18

44

21.68

21.68

9

26.22

14

16.86

91

17.12

60

19.58

176

17.39

11

22.27

44

20.20

9

19.33

14

16.86

91

16.98

60

20.05

176

8.86

8.86

11

11.45

44

9.80

9.80

9

9.78

9.78

14

8.50

91

7.89

60

9.53

9.53

176

44.49

44.49

11

59.91

44

51.68

51.68

51.68

9

55.33

55.33

14

42.21

91

41.99

60

49.17

49.17

49.17

Means for groups in homogeneous subsets are displayed. Alpha level = .05.

ings show that two types of activity – cyberrelationships and online gambling – are partic- ularly strongly related with high Internet addiction scores. The post hoc tests also showed that people spending more time on cyberrelationships scored higher on the ‘‘Reality Substitute dimension than those involved in such activities as online shopping and information searching. This implies that people engaged in cyber- relationships are more likely to view the Internet as another reality and use their com- puter-mediated relationships to replace social interactions in the real world.

5. Discussion and conclusions

In order to understand Internet addiction from a multi-dimensional perspective and to explore the factor structure of its measurement instrument, the current study

2610 M.K. Chang, S.P. Man Law / Computers in Human Behavior 24 (2008) 2597–2619

sought to explore the factor structure of Young’s Internet Addiction Test (IAT) using a confirmatory approach. The results from factor analyses show that the IAT can be characterized as exploring three dimensions of Internet behavior: Withdrawal and Social Problems, Time Management and Performance Effects, and Reality Substitution. Widyanto and McMurran (2004) have previously proposed a six-factor structure for the IAT. Their six factors were salience, excess use, neglecting work, anticipation, lack of self-control, and neglecting social life. The results of this study suggest that a three-factor structure is a satisfactory representation of the IAT instrument. Comparing the two fac- tor structures, the ‘‘Withdrawal and Social Problems dimension proposed here contains items that loaded on Widyanto and McMurran’s (2004) ‘‘salience and ‘‘neglecting social life factors; the ‘‘Time Management and Performance dimension resembles their ‘‘lack of self-control and ‘‘neglecting work factors; while the ‘‘Reality Substitute factor does not have any correspondence. This difference in factor structure may be caused by sam- pling different groups of people in the respective studies. Widyanto and McMurran (2004) recruited a sample of 86 participants with diverse backgrounds and unknown nationalities through the Internet, whereas our sample consisted of 410 Chinese univer- sity students. Thus, these two samples have different demographic and cultural back- grounds. But this is just a speculation as we have got only two samples to compare. For any assessment instruments, it is important to test whether the underlying dimen- sions are invariant across different samples because this allows the comparison among groups ( Byrne, 1989 ). In order to test for the stability of IAT dimensions, more studies should be conducted on people from different groups and cultures so that comparisons can be made. Compared with the six factors identified by Widyanto and McMurran (2004) , our results suggest that the symptoms for Internet addiction tend to cluster together more strongly in our sample. This information can be useful in understanding the interplay amongst various problem areas when dealing with Internet addiction. Our first factor, ‘‘Withdrawal and Social Problems , actually comprises two blocks of items. The ‘‘With- drawal block is related to the DSM-IV’s set of substance dependence criteria, while the ‘‘Social Problems block is related to its substance abuse set (American Psychiatric Asso- ciation, 1994 ). These two building blocks have usually been developed as separate dimen- sions in other measurements of Internet addiction ( Cheng, Weng, Su, Wu, & Yang, 2003; Griffiths, 1998 ). However, the results of the current study suggest that the two blocks of items load on a single factor, demonstrating the strong interplay between withdrawal symptoms and an individual’s interpersonal problems. This might be explained by Davis’s (2001) cognitive-behavioral model of pathological internet use. He found that people suffering from Internet addiction exhibit certain withdrawal symptoms (e.g., defensiveness, diminished impulse control) which can distress their interpersonal relation- ships. Although people notice that their Internet use behaviors are socially undesirable, they fail to control them, and the frustrations encountered in their offline social life can in turn lead to further withdrawal symptoms. As a result, ‘‘Withdrawal and ‘‘Social Problems can reinforce each other and maintain a vicious cycle. Despite the fact that these two blocks are related to different criteria sets in the DSM-IV, some studies have shown that the abuse and dependence criteria measure similar latent constructs (e.g., Fulkerson, Harrison, & Beebe, 1999; Harrison, Fulkerson, & Beebe, 1998; Lewinsohn, Rohde, & Seeley, 1996 ). This further supports the contention that ‘‘Withdrawal and

M.K. Chang, S.P. Man Law / Computers in Human Behavior 24 (2008) 2597–2619

2611

‘‘Social Problems are not easily separable due to their duality, and that it is reasonable to treat them as a single factor. ‘‘Reality Substitute is a particularly interesting dimension. This dimension reflects the phenomenon of some people using the Internet environment as a substitute and becoming addicted. This dimension is especially specific to Internet addiction because of the unique nature of the Internet. Many significant activities conducted in the real world – shopping, gambling, studying, social interaction, etc. – can be accomplished through the Internet where some less desirable aspects of offline interaction, such as the awkwardness of meeting new people, can be avoided. This might explain how peo- ple can become addicted to the Internet in a way that encourages them to, in some respects, live in a virtual world. Although ‘‘Reality Substitute provides another direc- tion for defining the diagnostic criteria for Internet addiction, its construct reliability is relatively low. To enhance the validity and diagnostic utility of this dimension, future research needs to identify a set of representative items for this dimension and validate them empirically. In addition to measurement validation, this study has investigated how the dimensions of the modified IAT instrument relate to several other variables. It was found that Internet experience was not related to any Internet addiction dimension, while Internet usage was related only with the ‘‘Reality Substitute dimension, and then only weakly. This result is consistent with the suggestion that it is not appropriate to use solely the amount of time spent online as the criterion for identifying Internet addicts, because people may use the Internet for different purposes ( Hansen, 2002 ). As the functions of the Internet and Web are enhanced continuously, people are spending more and more time online to per- form productive tasks. Thus, in the long run, it may be necessary to review the criteria used to judge the extent of Internet addiction. Prior studies have shown that the Internet can distract students from their work ( Chou, 2001; Chou & Hsiao, 2000; Hur, 2006; Scherer, 1997; Tsai & Lin, 2003; Young, 1998b ). In keeping with these findings, the results of the present study also show a significant negative relationship between academic performance and the three dimensions of Internet addic- tion. This suggests that disrupted academic performance is one of the obvious problems related to Internet addictive behavior. The results show that people who frequently participate in cyberrelationships and online gambling have relatively higher Internet addiction scores in general. They dis- play more withdrawal symptoms and experience greater social problems, as compared with those who prefer other kinds of Internet activity. These results seem to provide some support for the view that Internet addicts are actually dependent on rewards associated with the Internet use that could also exist offline (Yellowlees & Marks,

2007 ).

Addictive behaviors are especially serious for people involved in cyberrelationships. This group tends to substitute the real world with the online environment and thinks that life without the Internet is empty and joyless. Consistent with the results of pre- vious studies (Amichai-Hamburger & Ben-Artzi, 2003; Caplan, 2002; Li & Chung, 2006; Lin & Tsai, 2002 ), these results indicate that the social support offered by a cyberrelationship can lead to more severe addictive behavior. The anonymity of online communication helps ensure that people who seek social contact from the Internet are not necessarily subject to any social consequences in real-life: if an individual offends someone on the Internet, he/she can simply change online identities and start another

2612 M.K. Chang, S.P. Man Law / Computers in Human Behavior 24 (2008) 2597–2619

relationship. Although this clearly might help people fulfill interpersonal needs, heavy reliance on it can make them fail in offline social encounters. For example, people who get used to the virtual context may find it difficult to get along with others without the anonymity of online social interactions, because they can no longer change their iden- tities when they face an unsatisfactory relationship. Feeling frustrated in real-life social contacts, they might prefer to turn back to cyberrelationships and treat them as a substitute. Gambling is another activity which plays an important role in the development of Inter- net addiction. This raises the possibility of escalated addiction due to the interaction between pathological gambling and Internet addiction. Gambling in itself is a challenging yet rewarding activity, as it provides people a sense of mastery by requiring them to master a changing bet outcome. The Internet offers gambling opportunities without time or geo- graphical restrictions, and this may result in higher levels of both gambling and Internet addiction. With the growing number of online casinos, people are now facing ample gam- bling opportunities. Thus, future research should pay attention to the interplay between pathological gambling and the Internet as this may help to inform the proper and early treatment. Results of this study should be interpreted in the context of its limitations. First, the data in our study were collected from Chinese students and thus the results may not be generalized to the Internet users from other groups and cultures. However, since students represent one of the groups that are vulnerable to both substance and non-substance addictions ( Pallanti et al., 2006 ), they may be at high risk for developing problematic Internet use ( Pallanti et al., 2006; Yellowlees & Marks, 2007 ). Along with the fact that the IAT has been used in the research on Internet addiction targeting students (e.g., Pallanti et al., 2006; Yang et al., 2005 ), it is prac- tical to understand the psychometric properties of the IAT for this group. Second, we recognize that the data used in this study were cross-sectional, with the level of Internet addiction being measured at one point rather than as it was emerging. The development of addictive behavior is an ongoing process whose proper delineation requires a time dimension. Third, this study focused on the relationship between Internet addiction and the criterion variables without addressing the possibility that these variables might influence one another as the addictive behavior develops. Finally, collecting the questionnaires directly from the students might affect the par- ticipants’ disclosure of some sensitive information. Thus, a social desirability scale may be added to the questionnaire in the future studies to check this aspect of the response. Despite these limitations, the implications drawn from the results extend the under- standing of Internet-related addictive behavior and provide a good basis for future research. More studies on the structure of Internet addiction can enhance our understand- ing of the phenomenon and the characteristics of the measurement instruments. Future studies of a similar nature can be conducted using different groups of people so that the validity and the reliability of IAT can be evaluated. Moreover, the reality-substitute effect of the Internet is an area worth of further investigation.

M.K. Chang, S.P. Man Law / Computers in Human Behavior 24 (2008) 2597–2619

2613

Appendix A

Instruments designed to measure Internet addiction without specifying the dimensions

Reference

Instrument

Basis

Initial sample

Rating

Diagnosis

 

scale

Goldberg (1995)

Internet addiction

Items adapted from the

Not reported

Seven

Individuals fulfilling three or more of the seven criteria (at any time during a twelve month period) are considered as having Internet addiction disorder

disorder diagnostic

substance-dependence criteria of

diagnostic

criteria (IADDC)

DSM-IV

criteria

Brenner (1997)

Internet-Related Addictive Behavior Inventory (IRABI) Clinical Symptoms of Internet Dependency (CSID) Young’s Diagnostic Questionnaire (YDQ)

Items adapted from the

563

online survey

32 true–

Not clearly defined

substance-abuse criteria of DSM-

respondents

false items

IV

Scherer (1997)

Items adapted from the substance-abuse and substance- dependence criteria of DSM-IV Items adapted from the DSM-IV criteria for pathological gambling

531

university students

10 true–

Individuals who answer positively to three or more of the 10 items are considered as Internet-dependent Individuals who answer positively to five or more of the eight items are considered as Internet addicts

 

false items

Young (1998b)

496

online survey

Eight

respondents

true–false

 

items

Young (1998a)

Internet Addiction

Items developed and expanded from the original version of YDQ, which is initially based on the DSM-IV criteria for pathological gambling

Not reported

20-item

Test (IAT)

Likert

Individuals are grouped according to the following cut-off scores:

20–39 points an average online user who has complete control over his/her Internet usage; 40–69 points signifies frequent problems due to Internet usage; 70–100 points significant problems are caused by Internet addiction Individuals having behaviors that meet the six criteria are defined as functionally addictive

Griffiths (2000)

Addiction

Items adapted from published literature about the common components of behavioral

Five case studies of excessive computer usage

Six

components criteria

diagnostic

 

criteria

addictions

Morahan-Martin

Pathological Use

Items developed from the negative consequences of Internet use: academic, work or interpersonal problems, distress, tolerance symptoms, and mood- altering use of the Internet

277

university students

13 true–

Individuals who answer positively to four or more of the 13 items are considered as pathological Internet users

and

Scale (PUS)

 

false items

Schumacher

 

(2000)

 

2614

M.K. Chang, S.P. Man Law / Computers in Human Behavior 24 (2008) 2597–2619

Appendix B

Instruments designed to measure Internet addiction as a multi-faceted construct

Reference Instrument

Basis

Extracted dimensions and their definitions

Initial sample

Rating scale

Lin and

Internet

Based on published literature about common diagnostic

criteria for Internet addiction Items developed from four aspects:

1. Tolerance: how subjects perceive less satisfac- tion from spending the same amount of time or using the same Internet applications com- pared to previously

2. Compulsive use and withdrawal: the degree

615

Taiwanese high

29-item Likert

Tsai

addiction

school students

(2002)

scale for

 

Taiwanese

high school

students

1. Tolerance

of compulsive Internet use and the degree

(IAST)

2. Compulsive use

of depression or moodiness if use is restricted

 

3. Withdrawal

3. Family, school and health problems: the

 

4. Related problematic

consequences

problems resulting from Internet use, focus- ing on family interaction, learning, and per- sonal health 4. Interpersonal and financial problems: the

problems resulting from Internet use, focus- ing on peer relationships and financial management

 

Davis

Online

Based on Davis’s (2001) cog- nitive-behavioral model of pathological Internet use Items derived from published literature about the symptoms of problematic Internet use

1. Diminished impulse control: obsessive cogni- tions about the Internet and an inability to reduce Internet use despite the desire to do so

2. Loneliness/depression: feelings of worthless- ness and depressive cognitions related to the Internet

211

undergraduate

36-item Likert

et al.

Cognition

students

(2002)

Scale (OCS)

 
 

(particularly focused on cog-

3. Social comfort: feelings of safety and security

nitions rather than behav-

in

being a part of the online social network

4. Distraction: using the Internet as an activity

 

iors), and also adapted from related measures of procrasti- nation, depression, impulsiv- ity, and pathological gambling

a

of avoidance in order to distract oneself from

stressful event, task, or stream of thought

Line missing

M.K. Chang, S.P. Man Law / Computers in Human Behavior 24 (2008) 2597–2619

2615

Caplan

Generalized

(2002)

Problematic

Internet Use

Scale

(GPIUS)

Thatcher

Problematic

and

Internet Use

Goolam

Questionnaire

(2005b)

(PIUQ)

Ceyhan

Problematic

et al.

Internet

(2007)

Usage Scale

(PIUS)

Based on Davis’s (2001) cog- nitive-behavioral model of pathological Internet use Items developed from three aspects:

1. Cognitions (withdrawal, social benefits, and social control)

2. Behavior (excessive use, mood alteration, and compulsivity)

3. Negative consequences

Items derived from:

questionnaire Young’s criteria for Internet addiction Published literature on symp- toms of Internet addiction

gambling

Pathological

A draft measuring instrument

consisting of 59 items was formed

to experts’ opinions and

suggestions

1. Mood alteration: an individual using the

2. Social benefits: an individual’s perceived

386 undergraduate

29-item Likert

Internet in order to facilitate some change in

students

negative affective states

social benefits of Internet use

3. Negative outcomes: personal, social, and professional problems resulting from one’s

Internet use

4. Compulsive use: an inability to control,

reduce, or stop online behavior, along with feelings of guilt about time spent online

5. Excessive time online: the degree to which one feels that he or she spends an excessive amount of time online or even loses track of time when using the Internet

6. Withdrawal: the difficulties with staying away from the Internet

7. Social control: individual’s perceived increase in social control when interacting with others online

1. Online preoccupation: one’s thinking about being online or wanting to spend more time online

279 online for pilot 1795 online for vali- dation sample

20-item Likert

2. Adverse effects: negative outcomes experienced by one as a result of his/her online activities

3. Social interactions: one’s using the Internet for social interaction activities

1. Negative consequences

2. Social benefit/social comfort

3. Excessive use

1658 university students 33-item Likert

2616

M.K. Chang, S.P. Man Law / Computers in Human Behavior 24 (2008) 2597–2619

Appendix C Similarity of dimensions across measurements

Measurement

Extracted dimensions for the measurement

 

OCS (Davis, 2001)

Diminished impulse control Compulsive use Excessive time online Tolerance Compulsive use and withdrawal

Loneliness/Depression Social comfort

Distraction

GPIUS ( Caplan, 2002)

Withdrawal

Social benefits Social control

Mood alteration

Negative outcomes

IAST ( Lin and Tsai, 2002)

Compulsive use and withdrawal

Family, school and health problems Interpersonal and financial problems Adverse effects

PIUQ (Thatcher and Goolam, 2005b ) PIUS ( Ceyhan et al., 2007)

Online preoccupation

Social interactions

Excessive use

Social benefit/Social comfort

Negative consequences

M.K. Chang, S.P. Man Law / Computers in Human Behavior 24 (2008) 2597–2619

Appendix D

Full set of items in IAT scale

2617

No. Details of items

Q1

How often do you find that you stay online longer than you intended?

Q2

How often do you neglect household chores to spend more time online?

Q3

How often do you prefer the excitement of the Internet to intimacy/relationships with your partner/

Q4

friends? How often do you form new relationships with fellow online users?

Q5

How often do others in your life complain to you about the amount of time you spend online?

Q6

How often do your grades or school work suffer because of the amount of time you spend online?

Q7

How often do you check your e-mail before something else that you need to do?

Q8

How often does your job performance or productivity suffer because of the Internet?

Q9

How often do you become defensive or secretive when anyone asks you what you do online?

Q10

How often do you block out disturbing thoughts about your life with soothing thoughts of the Internet?

Q11

How often do you find yourself anticipating when you will go online again?

Q12

How often do you fear that life without the Internet would be boring, empty, and joyless?

Q13

How often do you snap, yell, or act annoyed if someone bothers you while you are online?

Q14

How often do you lose sleep due to late-night logins?

Q15

How often do you feel preoccupied with the Internet when offline, or fantasize about being online?

Q16

How often do you find yourself saying ‘‘just a few more minuteswhen online?

Q17

How often do you try to cut down the amount of time you spend online and fail?

Q18

How often do you try to hide how long you’ve been online?

Q19

How often do you choose to spend more time online over going out with others?

Q20

How often do you feel depressed, moody or nervous when you are offline, which goes away once you are back online?

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