The Use of the Internet and Social Networks and the Relationship with Symptoms of Anxiety and Depression among Medical Students

<p></p><p>ABSTRACT Introduction: The internet is now an essential tool, through which people enjoy easy and rapid access to information and can maintain personal relationships through social networks. However, when its use becomes uncontrolled and maladaptive, what can entail is known as Internet Addiction (IA). In previous studies, several comorbidities associated with this disorder have been investigated, generating knowledge that is important for clinical management. Objective: To investigate the correlation between indicators of internet use and social networks with the presence of symptoms of anxiety and depression. Methods: A descriptive, cross-sectional, quantitative study with convenience sampling, carried out with medical students in 2015. The anxiety and depression symptoms were analyzed through the Beck Anxiety Inventory (BAI) and the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), respectively. In addition, a questionnaire made by the researchers based on the internet Addiction Test (IAT) was used. Results: Out of the 169 students who participated in the research, 98.8% (167) use the internet and/or social networks on a daily basis. The prevalence of various indications of the harmful use of the internet was evaluated, as well as the participants’ conception of its use. No statistical association was found between the time spent on the internet and the presence of symptoms of anxiety and depression, according to the BAI and BDI scores. However, some statistically significant associations were observed between the results obtained from the BAI and BDI and indicators of the need for internet verification as well as signs of maladaptive use of the internet. Conclusion: The present study ratifies the previous findings in the literature by pointing out that IA is not necessarily related to the time spent on the internet, but rather to a maladaptive pattern of use. The results found here may serve as basis for future interventions in educational institutions that seek to minimize the damage of this disorder, which has become increasingly present.</p><p></p>