Many studies have explored the relationship between childhood trauma and internet addiction from different theoretical perspectives; however, the results have been inconsistent. The purpose of this meta-analysis was to examine the relationship between childhood trauma and internet addiction.
The PubMed, Web of Science, Embase, CNKI, Wanfang and VIP electronic databases were searched to identify studies examining the correlation between childhood trauma and adolescent internet addiction. The databases were searched from inception to December 31, 2022. Two researchers independently screened the literature, extracted the data, and evaluated the risk of bias of the included studies. Then, Stata 17.0 software was used to perform meta-analysis.
This study was registered on PROSPERO (CRD42023388699). A total of 19 studies involving 21,398 adolescents were included in this meta-analysis. The random effects model was used for pooled analysis, and the results revealed a strong positive association between childhood trauma and internet addiction (r = 0.395, 95% CI [0.345, 0.442]). The relationship between childhood trauma and internet addiction was moderated by sample size, survey area, and internet addiction measurement tools. There were significant differences between the associations based on the various child trauma measurement tools and study quality scores. However, interstudy heterogeneity was not significantly affected by study year, sample source, or participant age.
Internet addiction is positively correlated with childhood trauma. Therefore, it is extremely important for parents to provide a good growth environment during childhood to enhance the physical and mental development of adolescents. A warm family atmosphere helps individuals develop a healthy personality, thereby reducing or preventing the occurrence of internet addiction. Due to the limited number and low quality of the included studies, the above conclusions need to be verified by additional high-quality studies.