Student perceptions of digital addiction

First published: 10 May 2019 | Last updated: 20 May 2019

Introduction: Digital Addiction is a term widely used in the media and in popular culture. The negative consequences of problematic use of digital devices and online material are well documented. Despite this, no consensus has been reached on the definition of ‘digital addiction’. Opinions differ as to whether ‘digital addiction’ is a ‘true’ addiction. There is a paucity of research investigating how individual’s perceive digital addiction and its impact. This project aims to develop an understanding of student perceptions of digital addiction, the impact digital behaviour has on everyday life, and of the boundary between healthy and problematic online behaviour.

Method: University of Leeds students were invited to participate in an online survey which enquired about their online behaviour (including a modified version of the Internet Addiction Test) and demographics (e.g. age, gender, School/Institute). Based on student responses, the research team purposively sampled participants who reported different levels of online behaviour and invited them to an interview. The interview aimed to investigate student perceptions of typical online usage and the point at which they feel digital devices become harmful to a person’s life. Interview data was analysed using thematic analysis. Data collection was carried out from July 2016-September 2016.

Results: The poster will present the results of the qualitative analysis of the interview data. Preliminary analysis suggests that students describe problematic online usage by its negative impact on everyday life rather than by a metric of extent of use of online devices/material. Students describe strategies used to avoid problematic use and to avoid being overwhelmed by the online world. Some students appear motivated to avoid addiction to the online world and the negative consequences that are perceived to be associated with problematic use.

Conclusion: The poster will explore the ability of these results to contribute to the development of a common understanding of digital addiction, and it’s boundary with healthy online behaviour. The opportunities for prevention of and early intervention with digital addiction in the student population will be discussed.

Ms G Genova, Dr B M Bewick, Prof B Summers University of Leeds
Conflicts of interest:
Funding sources and declaration: University of Leeds Undergraduate Reasearch and Leadership Scholarship Scheme

no conflict of interest

Dr Bridgette Bewick