Abstract: Internet Addiction Among Adolecents of Migrant Workers in Rural China (Society for Social Work and Research 25th Annual Conference - Social Work Science for Social Change)

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675P Internet Addiction Among Adolecents of Migrant Workers in Rural China

Tuesday, January 19, 2021
* noted as presenting author
Yiqi Zhu, PhD Candidate, Washington University in Saint Louis, St.Louis, MO
Hao Xue, PhD, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Standford University, Stanford, CA
Background and Purpose: The internet addiction was defined as a proclivity towards compulsive use of internet that interfered with one’s ability to lead a normal life (Davis, 2001). In China, there were over 1.69 adolescent internet users, and the studies conducted 10 years ago estimated internet addiction incidents among adolescent was estimated between 2.4% and 10.6% (Cao et al 2007). With the fast spread of internet coverage, few studies estimated the prevalence of internet addiction among adolescents, especially the most vulnerable ones in rural China without direct parental supervision in recent year. This study aims to find the current prevalence of internet addiction among the adolescent in rural China, especially among the adolescents with parents as migrant workers. In addition, this study explores the factors associated with the severity of internet addiction.

Methods. This study used stratified randomly sampling to first selected seven cities in a province in the northwest China, and among the seven cities, 70 schools in 30 counties were randomly selected. 6928 7th and 8th graders from those 70 schools participate in this study in October 2019. The internet addiction measurement was adapted from nine indictors used by China Internet Addiction Annual Study, which has provided its valid and reliability in the previous studies. We changed its original binary answers to Likert scales to capture level of internet addiction into three levels.

Results: The average addiction score among middle schoolers were 18.45(SD=7.14), which was categorize into three level of severity: low (41.15%), middle (51.79%) and high (7.06%) based on quantiles. Among the children with both parents as migrant workers, 11.41% of the adolescents have high level of internet addiction in contrast to 6.25% of adolescents live with both parents (Chi=40.83, p=0.00). Ordered logistic regression found that males, parents being migrant workers, low fathers’ education, and low academic performances were significantly associated with higher level of addiction. This study also found two unique factors associated with internet addictions among middle schoolers in rural China: adolescents who boarded at school and who used cell phone to access internet had higher level of internet addiction and adolescents.

Conclusion and Implication: With the fast spread of internet coverage in China, the internet addiction also became more prevalent among adolescents. This study used data collected in 2019 to estimate internet addiction prevalence among rural youth in northwest China and identified the most vulnerable youth were the ones with parents as migrant workers, living in the school and have access to cell phones. More policies and programs should be designed for the healthy usage of internet and cell phones for this group of adolescents. In addition, schools should play more active roles in supporting children without direct parental supervision. We call for more research on the school-based intervention supporting boarding students with parents as migrant workers.