Excessive Internet Use

Is your child spending too much time online?

Between doing research for homework, talking with friends, updating social media pages, watching videos and playing games, it is easy to see how children and young people might lose track of time.

But how much is too much time? Excessive use of the internet can be defined in one of two ways:

1.     Anything over 2 hours per day

2.     A pattern that is repetitive, compulsive and uncontrolled

Excessive use is anything over 2 hours per day

In a research study on the association between intensity of internet use and adolescent health, Dr Michaud et al (2011) defines heavy use as anything more than 2 hours per day.



of Maltese children spend more than 2 hours per day on the internet.

(Source: MCA, February 2015)


of Maltese children spend more than 4 hours per day on the internet

(Source: MCA, February 2015)

Dr Michaud found a strong relationship between excessive use and adolescent poor mental health, e.g. kids who were heavy users or non-users were more likely to be depressed or very depressed.

A pattern that is repetitive, compulsive and uncontrolled

EU Kids Online (2012) defines the problem as one that displays problematic and excessive behaviour. This is characterised by a pattern that is repetitive, compulsive and uncontrolled. As part of the research it identified 5 negative consequences of excessive internet use:

  1. I tried unsuccessfully to spend less time on the internet
  2. I spent less time than I should with family and friends, or doing schoolwork because of my internet use
  3. I caught myself surfing the net when I wasn’t particularly interested
  4. I felt bothered when I was not on the internet
  5. I have gone without eating or sleeping because of the internet

Both excessive use and no use of the internet among adolescents could be a good indicator that a teenager is having problems

(Source: Michaud et al, 2011)


of European children experienced one or more of the 5 consequences above.

(Source: EU Kids Online, 2012) 


of European children show pathological levels
of internet use.

(Source: EU Kids Online, 2012) 

Excessive internet use can have negative effects on young people, including negative effects on schoolwork, health and social lives.

At times, adults do not notice the problem until it becomes more serious. ibrowsesafely.com.mt strongly suggests in order to prevent excessive internet use, parents proactively seek to talk have open and frank discussions with their child about internet use.

This becomes more important when your child is bothered by something online. Parental supervision is also extremely important.

Check out our handy infographic on Excessive Internet Use!