The average Japanese teenager is constantly connected, with their internet addiction causing more than just lost sleep and skipped meals.

“Internet addiction” is affecting 518,000 junior-high and high school students in Japan, according to new government estimates.

In a survey of 140,000 students conducted by a health ministry panel where 98,000 responded, 8.1%, or 7,952 students, were deemed “pathologically” addicted to the Internet.

Around 9% of junior-high school students spends over five hours on the Internet during weekdays. While 14% to 15% of high school students take about that long when surfing the web.

The figures jumped on weekends, with around 14% of junior-high students and around 21% of high school students spending over five hours on the Internet.

The students were also asked whether they felt depressed or anxious when not using the Internet, and whether they felt they had jeopardized important relationships or school activities because of Internet use, reports Japan Real Time.

Of those thought to be addicted 43% slept less than six hours a night and 23.2% had trouble falling asleep.

Maki Ikeda, a researcher at Nihon University, said Internet addiction can lead to serious health problems in the long run, such as malnutrition and depression.

“Even many of those who weren’t judged to be addicts appear to be generally lacking sleep,” she said.

Internet addiction is on the rise the world over with a generation used to having the world at its fingertips.

by Maesie Bertumen

Image: sebra /