Accepted for/Published in: JMIR Pediatrics and Parenting

Date Submitted:

Open Peer Review Period: -

Date Accepted:

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  • James N
  • Dysfunctional use of the Internet during the COVID-19 pandemic in Rwanda: a potential public health concern and family challenges
  • JMIR Pediatrics and Parenting
  • DOI: 10.2196/11848
  • PMID: 30303485
  • PMCID: 6352016

Dysfunctional use of the Internet during the COVID-19 pandemic in Rwanda: a potential public health concern and family challenges



Rwanda was the first African country to close schools and implemented lock down related to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic that have led some teachers, lecturers to replace in-personal with online learning. Initiatives such as online teaching and internet use for socializing and stress reduction in this period may achieve positive outcomes. Although internet can be a healthy coping strategy to reduce stress and anxiety and/or to alleviate depressed mood during school closure and lockdown, children and adolescents are at risk of developing internet addiction due to the fact that they have not created yet critical thinking. Therefore Internet addiction is a potential public health concern and family challenges. In addition, internet addiction is associated with some cognitive deficits affecting learning and poor relationships with parents. In such a context, the need to address internet addiction, education and prevention with young people has become self-evident. In this paper, I outline my recommendations for improved public health warnings and education, and research for prevention of Internet addiction in Rwanda.


To raise awareness on internet addiction during COVID-19 in Rwanda and importance of education and prevention among young people.


The paper is opinion, I used literature to back my Idea


dysfunction use of the Internet is typically less harmful than many other potential behaviors used to cope with stress and aversive emotions, such as alcohol and other drug use currently considered as public health and family challenges in Rwanda [9 In some children and adolescents however, long term school closure and excessive use of internet might escalate into Internet addiction.


To conclude, we would like emphasize the current use of internet by children and adolescents during COVID-19 pandemic (using the Internet for different purposes in addition to e-learning) as a public health and family challenges in Rwanda that are comparable with substance addictions. Risk factor for dysfunctional use of internet and internet addiction among children and adolescents is trait impulsivity (ie, the tendency to take risks or act without adequate forethought or reflection). One of the reasons behind this health concern is the long period of school closure and quarantine related to COVID-19 pandemic that might lead to a spike in dysfunctional use of internet (e.g.,tolerance, withdrawal, craving, loss of control and relapse) and potentially, development of internet addiction in at-risk children and adolescents, therefore placing further pressure on national rehabilitation services, health services and challenge to school system in providing quality students able to work for country, during and after pandemic. In this context, many children and adolescents may not only study through e-learning but also some may be involved in daily behaviours and leisure activities through internet nowadays tend to be considered as tentative new ‘behavioural addictions’with potential to affect their academic performance, relationships with parents, and compromise their physical and psychological functions. Thus, the problem of Internet use among children and adolescents during COVID-19 pandemic was taken here to highlight that consideration of excessive behaviors (such as involvement in internet addiction to include cybersex, exaggerated involvement in social networks or video game) within the biomedical addiction model. Importantly, our argument here is not to minimize the obvious importance of internet use among our children during school closure, to protect themselves, families and health-care systems, and to save lives, but to discuss health concern related to risks and consequences and psychological distress that can result from Internet addiction. We suggest that, as well as this important public health advice, governments should give public health warnings about internet addiction, to cope with stress and aversive emotions. Too many parents are simply unaware of what their children are doing online and little is known of risk associated with internet addiction with respect to their health and wellbeing. Although the field of internet in Rwanda is in its infancy and need to be developed and used by children and adolescents, this cannot prevent government and parents from integrating awareness, education and research as internet addiction prevention strategies among children and adolescents.


N/A it is an opinion kind of research

As per the author’s request the PDF is not available.