More than 30 percent of college students in Bhutan are addicted to Internet, according to the findings of a recent study on internet addiction among college students.
The research paper highlights that internet addiction among adolescents and young adults may result in poor personal behaviour and habits and lead to poor academic accomplishments.
Internet addiction, the study suggests, could also lead to engagement in risky activities and instil poor dietary and sleeping habits.
According to the study, 33.1 percent of the students had moderate internet addiction and 1.2 percent had severe addiction.
The study was conducted in six of 10 colleges under the Royal University of Bhutan from May 1, 2016 to January 31, 2017.
The research paper was authored by Dr Karma Tenzin, Deputy Dean of Faculty of Postgraduate Medicine, Khesar Gyalpo University of Medical Science (KGUMS) and researchers from the Royal Medical Kidu Unit, health ministry’s policy and planning division, Tshimalakha Hospital in Chhukha, the Gelephu Central Regional Hospital and WHO’s Delhi-based South East Asia Regional Office.
This study included 823 first-year and final-year students between the ages of 18 and 24 years. Self-administered questionnaire consisting of three parts were distributed for data collection.
Dr Karma Tenzin said internet addiction refers to one’s failure to manage the use of internet, which sooner or later causes distress in everyday life.
The study, which is first of its kind in Bhutan, states that internet addiction is associated with poor mental health.
The research paper highlights that those addicted to internet in Hongkong and Malaysia had higher scores of depression, anxiety and stress. Prevalence of Internet addiction among college students in Bangladesh, India and Malaysia, ranges from 8.1 percent to 36.6 percent.
It was found that internet use for news and educational purposes had protective effect. This, according to Dr Karma Tenzin, means that when the internet is used for news and educational purpose, addiction was less likely.
A majority of the students who participated in the research said they used smartphones and access Internet. Over 80 percent of the students visited social website and networking.
The paper states that all in all, the high prevalence of internet addiction in the country is worrisome.
The research paper states the high prevalence of internet addiction in a country, which legalized the use of Internet and television only in 1999 is worrisome.
The study concludes that the scenario is headed to be grimmer in the coming years due to ever increasing and easy accessibility.
The paper calls for timely intervention from stakeholders. “It is the right time that appropriate regulations are formulated related to Internet use in the country.”
Amongst others interventions, the paper suggests discouraging unhealthy use of internet through education and awareness and professional support.
“There is also an urgent need to create awareness about internet addiction for the policy makers, teachers, students, parents and general public.”
It was found that smartphones were the most preferred mode for Internet use.
There are about 6,000 students in Bhutan’s two universities – Royal University of Bhutan (RUB) and KGUMSB.
In Bhutan, the penetration of Internet use has grown exponentially to 75 percent in 2017, which is the highest in the region.
The paper however, added that the study has its limitations as four colleges in eastern and central Bhutan were excluded from the study. And only first and final year students participated in the study.