Bulgarian Journal of Psychiatry, 2024; 9(2):15-20

Prevalence and predictive factors of internet addiction among paramedical students in Southern Tunisia

Mouna Baklouti1, Houda Ben Ayed1, Hanen Maamri2, Nouha Ketata2, Zaher Abdelhedi3, Jihene Jdidi2, Yosra Mejdoub2, Mondher Kassis4, Sourour Yaich2, Jamel Dammak2

1Preventive Medicine and Hygiene Department, Hedi Chaker University Hospital, University of Sfax, Tunisia

2Community Health and Epidemiology Department, Hedi Chaker University Hospital, University of Sfax, Tunisia

3High Institute of Nursing, University of Sfax, Tunisia 4Preventive Medicine and Hygiene Department, Habib Bourguiba University Hospital, University of Sfax, Tunisia

Abstract. Introduction. Internet addiction (IA) is a new phenomenon affecting young people, particularly University students. The study aimed to estimate the prevalence of IA among paramedical students (ParaMS) in Southern Tunisia and to identify their predisposing factors. Methods. This was a cross-sectional study using an anonymous self-administered questionnaire applied in a randomized sample of ParaMS in Southern Tunisia, in the period March-May 2021. Results. Among 315 participants, there were 100 males (32.7%). The mean age was 20.85 ± 1.31 years. There were 154 internet addicted ParaMS, accounting for a prevalence of 48.9%. Principal factors independently associated with IA were living in a University hostel (p = 0.011) or with friends (p = 0.04), age of first internet use < 10 years (p < 0.001), type of connection gadget used, mainly smartphone or tablet (p = 0.02) and laptop computer (p = 0.001), frequent internet use for online games (p = 0.009), listening music and watching movies (p = 0.008), as well as high internet use speed (p < 0.001) and total time spent on the internet ≥4 hours per day (p = 0.037). On the other hand, having other leisure activities such as sport practicing (p < 0.001) and art and music (p = 0.011) were independently associated with healthy use of internet. Conclusion. IA rate among ParaMS was alarmingly high. Various predictive factors for this phenomenon include sociodemographic and cultural determinants. National strategies must be planned in order to promote healthy and utile use of internet.

Key words: addiction, internet, paramedical students, predictive factors

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