Relationship between internet addiction and alexithymia among university students

Seher Baysan-Arslan, Sevsen Cebeci, Mehmet Kaya, Metin Canbal


Purpose: Epidemiological studies concerning internet addiction found that 50% of internet addicts also have other kinds of psychiatric disorders. This study aims to examine the relationship between alexithymia and internet addiction levels among Turgut Özal University students in Ankara, Turkey.

Method: University students (1,107 students; 452 students from 12 associate degree programs and 655 students from 10 undergraduate programs) participated in the study. The researchers used the personal information form, the Toronto Alexithymia Scale and the Internet Addiction Scale. The approval for the current study was received from the Turgut Özal University Medical Faculty Clinical Studies Ethics Committee.

Results: The number of the alexithymic students was 12.5% whereas the number of the students who were internet addicts was 13.5%. The internet addiction scores were higher among alexithymic individuals than the non-alexithymic (p<0.001). There was a significant difference in internet addiction average scores between male and female students (p=0.001). ‘Difficulty identifying feeling’ scores were higher among females whereas ‘'externally oriented thinking’ scores were higher among males.

Conclusion: The study findings suggest that the internet addiction scores were significantly higher among alexithymic individuals than those who are non-alexithymic. The most obvious reason for this relationship may that alexithymic individuals try to regulate their emotional moods through addictive behavior. There is a need for more comprehensive studies on this subject in the literature.

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