Cross-Sectional Associations between Physical Activity and Internet Addiction among Undergraduate Students in Taiwan

*Corresponding author: Yen-Jung Chang* and Jia-Ji Sun

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original research

Abstract

Purpose

Internet addiction is a major health concern among undergraduate students; however, few studies have addressed modifiable behavioural factors associated with internet addiction in the context of Taiwan. This study aimed to investigate associations between physical activity and the risk of internet addiction among undergraduate students in Taiwan.

Methods

In 2017, we recruited 320 undergraduate students from Northern Taiwan to participate in a cross-sectional questionnaire-based survey. Physical activity was measured by the Taiwanese short-form version of the International Physical Activity Questionnaire, which evaluates an individual’s weekly levels of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity (VPA) and moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity (MPA). Internet addiction was measured by the Chen Internet Addiction Scale (CIAS).

Results

For the 320 surveyed students, the average CIAS score was 53.3, and 18.13% of participants were at risk for internet addiction (defined as CIAS score >64). The results of the multiple regression analysis indicated that a routine of at least 150 min of MPA per week was negatively associated with risk for internet addiction (β=−4.39, 95% CI=[-8.10, -0.66]). No significant associations were observed between internet addiction and 75 min of VPA or 150 min of total physical activity per week. Among the 5 dimensions of the CIAS scale, MPA was negatively associated with tolerance symptoms, time-management problems, and interpersonal and health-related problems when a routine of 150 min per week was adopted.

Conclusion

A routine of 150 min of MPA per week was associated with a lower risk for internet addiction. Intervention efforts aimed at reducing undergraduate students’ problematic internet use should promote recommended levels of MPA. We also recommend longitudinal research on the effects of engaging in physical activity on the risk of internet addition.

Keywords

Physical activity; Internet addiction; Undergraduate students.