Internet addiction may be a reality for more than 1 in 20 people worldwide, according to new research out of the University of Hong Kong and published in the journal Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking. Researchers analyzed data from nearly 90,000 people in 31 countries and found that the global prevalence of Internet addiction is estimated to be 6%. But the individual regions' rates were pretty varied, dipping down to 2.6% in Northern and Western Europe and reaching as high as 10.9% in the Middle East, reports PsyPost.com; no African countries were included. The prevalence rate in the US was estimated as 8.0%. The authors noted that "the IA prevalence rate was more than threefold higher than that of pathological gambling (0.2% to 2.1%), another impulse control disorder."
The researchers found that countries that had a higher prevalence rate tended to have "perception of less life satisfaction in general, greater overall pollution, greater traffic commute time consumption, and lower national income." As such, the study "provides initial support for the inverse relationship between quality of life and Internet addiction," says the head of the Virtual Reality Medical Institute. "It, however, finds no support for the hypothesis that high Internet accessibility (such as the high penetration rates in northern and western Europe), promote IA." (Meanwhile, the first case of Google Glass addiction was recently reported.)