Lowered Emotional Clarity in Nursing Students With Internet Addiction

Nursing students with internet addiction displayed higher attention scores and lower levels of emotional clarity, compared with their fellow students.

In a cohort of nursing students, individuals with internet addiction (IA) may have difficulty regulating emotions given their higher levels of attention combined with lower levels of emotional clarity. These results are detailed in a recent study published in HELIYON.

Between December 2021 and June 2022, researchers conducted a multicenter cross-sectional study and the relationship between IA, emotional intelligence (EI), and sociodemographic traits in Spanish undergraduate nursing students aged 18 to 24 years. The researchers gathered sociodemographic data through participant questionnaires and utilized the Internet Addiction Test (IAT) scale and Trait Meta-Mood (TMMS-24) scale to measure IA and EA, respectively. Students qualified for IA if they scored 40 and greater on the IAT. For EI, students were assessed across three dimensions: attention, emotional repair, and emotional clarity.

A total of 532 nursing students from 2 universities and 3 campuses were included in the final analysis and the majority were women (n=453; 85.2%). Overall, 11.1% (n=59) of participants qualified for internet addiction. This cohort of students with IA displayed significantly higher levels of attention (median=31; P =.010; Cohen d = -0.375) than the other students (median=28). However, internet addiction was also associated with significantly lower levels of emotional clarity (median=22; P =.031; Cohen d =0.307) than controls (median=24).

The development of programs which improve emotional intelligence could be essential to facilitate the emotional management of internet addiction.

Noteworthy gender differences were observed across participants, regardless of IA status. Overall, women displayed higher attention scores (median=28; P =.033) than men (median=27), while men exhibited higher emotional repair scores (median=26; P =.048) than women (median=24).

Furthermore, significant age-related differences were detected using the Kruskal-Wallis H test. Age groups significantly differed regarding their IA (P <.001), with younger students aged 18 (median=28) and 19 (median=27) years displaying the highest addiction scores. Age groups also had significantly different scores across emotional clarity (P =.024) and emotional repair (P =.047), with students aged 24 years and older displaying the highest scores (clarity: median=26; repair: median=27), compared to all the younger age groups.

The researchers also assessed the relationship between IA scores and the EI dimensions using Spearman correlations. Emotional clarity (Rho= -0.169; P <.01) and emotional repair (Rho= -0.095; P <.05) were both significantly, but weakly, correlated to IA values.

The authors concluded, “The development of programs which improve emotional intelligence could be essential to facilitate the emotional management of internet addiction.”

This study was limited by the use of a cross-sectional design, as it did not allow for the determination of causal relationships.

This article originally appeared on Psychiatry Advisor


Fernández-Martínez E, Sutil-Rodríguez E, Liébana-Presa C. Internet addiction and emotional intelligence in university nursing students: a cross-sectional study. Heliyon. Published online August 26, 2023. doi:10.1016/j.heliyon.2023.e19482