Document Type


Publication Date



Objective: Internet addiction has emerged as a growing concern worldwide. This study aimed to compare the prevalence of Internet addiction between left-behind children (LBC) and non-left-behind children (non-LBC), and explore the role of paternal and maternal parent-child communication on LBC.

Methods: We conducted a cross-sectional survey in rural areas in Anhui, China. The complete data were available from 699 LBC and 740 non-LBC. Multivariable logistic regression was used to examine 1) whether LBC were more likely to develop Internet addiction, and 2) the association between parent-child communication and Internet addiction among LBC.

Results: LBC had a higher likelihood to report Internet addiction when compared to non-LBC (OR = 2.03, 95%CI = 1.43–2.88, p < 0.001). Among LBC, parent-child communication (both mother-child and father-child) was protective factor for children’s Internet addiction. The role of mother-child communication played well among male LBC.

Conclusions: The lack of parental supervision may lead to Internet addiction. It is highly recommended for migrant parents to improve the quality of communication with their children. Also, gender-matching effects should be considered in the relationship between children’s behavior and parental factors.


This article was originally published in International Journal of Public Health, volume 66, in 2021.


The authors

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.



To view the content in your browser, please download Adobe Reader or, alternately,
you may Download the file to your hard drive.

NOTE: The latest versions of Adobe Reader do not support viewing PDF files within Firefox on Mac OS and if you are using a modern (Intel) Mac, there is no official plugin for viewing PDF files within the browser window.