Generation Net: Exploring internet usage and its association with academic performance, mental health, and sleep habits among college students

Shaina Johnson, MPH, Amanda Ichite, MPH, CPH, Wissam Al Khoury, MD, MBA, Derrick Forney, MPH and William Darrow, PhD
Florida International University, Miami, FL

APHA's 2019 Annual Meeting and Expo (Nov. 2 - Nov. 6)

Background: Problematic internet use (PIU) is excessive internet use that interferes with one’s daily life. PIU has been linked to insomnia, depression, and negative academic performance, however, research within the college population in the U.S. is lacking. Objectives: To assess internet use by college students and any association with sleep habits, mental health, and academic performance within a student population at a large Hispanic-serving research university in South Florida. Methods: A cross-sectional study design employing venue-based sampling was used to recruit students from seven high traffic locations on campus. Students completed a self-administered questionnaire assessing PIU risk, insomnia severity, psychological distress, knowledge and use of student health center services, academic performance, and top reasons for internet use. Cross tabulations and bivariate correlations were completed to determine associations among variables and multiple linear regression was conducted to identify predictors of PIU. Results: Fifty-eight percent of respondents were at risk for PIU. Of those, 33%, 30%, and 29% indicated moderate or severe psychological distress, depression, and moderate or severe insomnia, respectively. PIU was associated with insomnia severity and selecting “dating” or “reading news” as top reasons for internet use. Conclusion: College students are at increased risk for PIU. Students are aware of supportive wellness services, but many fail to utilize them. College health administrators may want to explore dual screening of PIU with other mental health conditions and offer counseling in tech-free environments. Future research is warranted to further estimate PIU prevalence and inform the development of interventions aimed at addressing PIU.

Administer health education strategies, interventions and programs Epidemiology Planning of health education strategies, interventions, and programs Provision of health care to the public Public health or related research Social and behavioral sciences