At least 14.4% of the total Indonesian adult population suffered from internet addiction amid the coronavirus pandemic, an academic study showed.

According to an article published in the journal Frontiers in Psychiatry by a team from the University of Indonesia and Atma Jaya Catholic University, the average time spent online also rose by 52% compared to pre-pandemic period.

The team surveyed 4,734 adults from all 34 provinces in the country.

In a press release on Thursday, Kristiana Siste, a psychiatrist involved in the study, said this situation is concerning, as overuse of internet can aggravate anxiety and depression and stimulate compulsive behavior, which in turn worsens internet addiction.

Indonesia has urged its people to stay at home since the pandemic started in March and further imposed large-scale social restrictions in response to soaring virus infections.

It forced people to work from home and students to take online classes.

The study said one of the predictive factors that lead to internet addiction amid pandemic is the urge of people to seek information related to COVID-19.

Siste said psychological stress that arises from fear of getting infected also causes people to look for recreation via internet as a form of adaptation.

“Individuals having infected relatives within their household have higher psychopathological (mental disorder) scores,” she said.

The study also found that decreased sleeping quality contributed to internet addiction.

“Those with internet addiction usually have difficulty falling asleep. The poor quality of sleep has the potential to cause psychological problems and a decline in the immune system,” said Siste.

The psychiatrist added that the study was expected to raise public awareness to maintain their psychological health conditions amid pandemic.

* Writing by Rhany Chairunissa Rufinaldo from Anadolu Agency’s Indonesian language services in Jakarta.

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