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Cyber Addiction Among Children And Adolescent

What is cyber addiction

Cyber addiction, also known as Internet addiction, computer addiction or online addiction refers to excessive or compulsive use of Internet and computers leading to impairment or distress (Shaw et.al. 2008). It includes a variety of problems such as:

  1. Cybersex addiction i.e. addiction of Internet pornography and chat room.
  2. Cyber-relationship addiction i.e. excessive social networking, texting, messaging and use of chat room, that replace real-life friends and social interactions and relationships
  3. Net compulsions i.e. compulsive and excessive online gaming and gambling,
  4. Computer addiction i.e. excessive playing of off-line computer games such as Solitaire or computer programming

How serious is the problem?

It is a serious problem worldwide including Asian countries. For instance, South Korea reported a high prevalence of Internet addiction and had declared it as a serious public health problem. A Korean study found 10.7% of the adolescents participated in the study had high risk of Internet addiction. (Park et.al. 2008) Prevalence of Internet addiction among adolescents in China was reported at 13.5% (Wu 2013).Malaysian youth were also reported to be susceptible to Internet addiction (Kapahi et.al. 2013).

What are the signs and symptoms of cyber addiction?

Signs and symptoms of cyber addiction include:

  • losing the sense of time
  • having trouble completing school work or house work due to the excessive time spent on computer or online
  • feeling guilty or defensive about Internet use or when it is inaccessible
  • having the need for better computer equipment, increased use of software and longer hours on computer
  • feeling excited while involved in Internet activities
  • having negative consequences such as arguments, lying and being absent from school

In addition, physical problems such as carpal tunnel syndrome, dry eyes, back and neck aches, severe headaches, fatigue and sleep disturbances are also common. It may also interfere with daily functioning leading to academic deterioration, impairment in relationship and social isolation.

How do children and adolescents become addicted?

Children and adolescents may turn to Internet as means of coping with unpleasant feelings or problems. Going online can temporarily relieve the unpleasant feelings and provide comfort, but gradually lead to unhealthy use of Internet and computer.

Who are at risk?


Children and adolescents who suffer from anxiety and depression are at greater risk of cyber addiction since they may use Internet to cope with their problems. Those with other addiction problems such as alcohol and drugs are also at greater risk. Adolescents who lack social support or not socially active tend to use Internet as their social networking sites, and gradually become addicted to it.

How to break your Internet addiction?

Below are important tips that may help you to break the addiction.

  1. Recognize underlying problems that may support your addiction such as depression and anxiety
  2. Equip yourself with better and healthier coping skills instead of turning to computer or going online
  3. Strengthen social support network
  4. Try to modify Internet use gradually
    • record your computer and Internet activities in order to monitor the seriousness of the problem
    • be clear of your objectives when using Internet
    • set time limit for computer and Internet use >
    • replace Internet use with other healthy activities

If you fail to break the habit, it is time to get professional help. Therapists will also assess for comorbid psychiatric disorders such as depression, anxiety and ADHD that need to be treated.

How to avoid cyber addiction?


  1. Try to limit time for Internet use and access
  2. Set a timer when using a computer or going online to ensure that you do not exceed your time
  3. Try to avoid reality based games that may go non-stop
  4. Find other hobbies that does not involve Internet
  5. Go out and spend time with friends
  6. Plan family activities
  7. Parents should monitor their children’s computer and Internet use


  1. Cuffey A.L. Is your child addicted to Internet? Curb your teen’s online habit to protect his or her wellbeing. http://www.womansday.com/sex-relationships/family/is-you
  2. Kapahi A., Choo S.L., Ramadass S., Abdullah N. Internet Addiction in Malaysia Causes and Effects. doi:10.4236/ib.2013.52009.Published Online June 2013. (http://www.scirp.org/journal/ib)
  3. Park S.K., Kim J.Y., Cho C.B. Prevalence Of Internet Addiction And Correlations With Family Factors Among South Korean Adolescents. Adolescence, 2008, 43(172), 895.
  4. Platt W., Viren T., Hanson S., Rubenstein B. How to Avoid Internet Addiction. http://www.wikihow.com/Avoid-Internet-Addiction
  5. Shaw M, Black D.W. Internet addiction: definition, assessment, epidemiology and clinical management. CNS Drugs 2008, 22(5): 353-365.
  6. Wu X., Chen X.,Han J., Meng H., Luo J., Nydegger L., Wu H. Prevalence and Factors of Addictive Internet Use among Adolescents in Wuhan, China: Interactions of Parental Relationship with Age and Hyperactivity-Impulsivity. PLOS ONE, 2013, 8(4) e6 1782
  7. Internet and Computer Addiction: Signs, Symptoms, and Treatment. http://www.helpguide.org/mental/Internet_cybersex_addiction.htm


Semakan Akhir : 3 Disember 2013
Penulis : Prof. Madya Dr. Wan Salwina bt. Wan Ismail