Published on in Vol 25 (2023)

Preprints (earlier versions) of this paper are available at https://preprints.jmir.org/preprint/44438, first published .
Environmental Influence and Recruitment Bias in Studies on Internet Addiction. Comment on “Addiction Symptom Network of Young Internet Users: Network Analysis”

Environmental Influence and Recruitment Bias in Studies on Internet Addiction. Comment on “Addiction Symptom Network of Young Internet Users: Network Analysis”

Environmental Influence and Recruitment Bias in Studies on Internet Addiction. Comment on “Addiction Symptom Network of Young Internet Users: Network Analysis”

Authors of this article:

Ting Yun Huang 1 Author Orcid Image ;   Yung-Po Liaw 1 Author Orcid Image

Letter to the Editor

School of Medicine, Chung Shan Medical University, Taichung City, Taiwan

Corresponding Author:

Yung-Po Liaw, PhD

School of Medicine

Chung Shan Medical University

No 110, Section 1, Jianguo N Rd

South District

Taichung City, 40201

Taiwan

Phone: 886 0424730022 ext 11838

Fax:886 0423248179

Email: liawyp@csmu.edu.tw




We read with great interest the article published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research titled, “Addiction Symptom Network of Young Internet Users: Network Analysis” by Lu et al [1]. With the increased integration of the internet and society, the importance of understanding the impact of internet usage on the quality of our daily lives has become ever more paramount. Lu et al [1] used the Internet Addiction Test to evaluate 4480 participants. They reported significant differences when performing a network comparison of individuals with and without internet addiction (IA). They identified links between multiple core symptoms of IA, including impact on school work, job performance, boredom, self-control, and fantasies on the web. While these findings have broad implications on the interactions between various IA symptoms and how IA develops, we would like to recommend including additional details that could better clarify the results.

The study stated that participants were recruited from 2 universities in Jiangsu, China, via advertisement. We do not know the exact environment of the 2 universities that the participants were recruited from. Environmental factors are known to play a great role in the development of IA [2]. While there is substantial variability between the backgrounds of individual participants, it would be important to note the general environment that the participants interact with (ie, ease of access to internet cafés and outdoor activities, level of urbanization, etc) [3]. It may also be interesting to request more background information on each participant, if eligible. This would provide more depth to the analysis.

The authors should clarify the process and describe the implications of using advertisements as the method of recruitment. Participants in studies are often motivated by different factors, which could result in biases [4]. It should be noted that different methods of advertisement, such as recruitment via social media, may also result in biases [5].

In conclusion, we believe addressing the above points can help clarify the interpretation of the results. Lu et al [1] touch upon an important issue in which the understanding of IA development and symptoms is becoming critical in modern culture.

Conflicts of Interest

None declared.

  1. Lu J, Zhang Q, Zhong N, Chen J, Zhai Y, Guo L, et al. Addiction symptom network of young internet users: network analysis. J Med Internet Res. Nov 10, 2022;24(11):e38984. [FREE Full text] [CrossRef] [Medline]
  2. Chung S, Lee J, Lee HK. Personal factors, internet characteristics, and environmental factors contributing to adolescent internet addiction: a public health perspective. Int J Environ Res Public Health. Nov 21, 2019;16(23) [FREE Full text] [CrossRef] [Medline]
  3. Ko C, Yen J, Lin P. Association between urbanization and internet addiction. Curr Opin Psychiatry. May 01, 2022;35(3):219-225. [CrossRef] [Medline]
  4. Ranjan R, Agarwal NB, Kapur P, Marwah A, Parveen R. Factors influencing participation of healthy volunteers in clinical trials: findings from a cross-sectional study in Delhi, North India. Patient Prefer Adherence. 2019;13:2007-2015. [FREE Full text] [CrossRef] [Medline]
  5. Benedict C, Hahn AL, Diefenbach MA, Ford JS. Recruitment via social media: advantages and potential biases. Digit Health. 2019;5:2055207619867223. [FREE Full text] [CrossRef] [Medline]


IA: internet addiction


Edited by T Leung; This is a non–peer-reviewed article. submitted 25.11.22; accepted 20.06.23; published 11.07.23.

Copyright

©Ting Yun Huang, Yung-Po Liaw. Originally published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research (https://www.jmir.org), 11.07.2023.

This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work, first published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, is properly cited. The complete bibliographic information, a link to the original publication on https://www.jmir.org/, as well as this copyright and license information must be included.