News / Health

Heavy Internet Use May Lead to Addictive Behaviors

Shin Minchul, bottom, a 21-year-old college student, plays online computer games at an Internet cafe in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013.Shin Minchul, bottom, a 21-year-old college student, plays online computer games at an Internet cafe in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013.
x
Shin Minchul, bottom, a 21-year-old college student, plays online computer games at an Internet cafe in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013.
Shin Minchul, bottom, a 21-year-old college student, plays online computer games at an Internet cafe in Seoul, South Korea, Wednesday, Dec. 11, 2013.

Related Articles

Study: Cookies as Addictive as Cocaine

Findings could shed light on potential addictiveness of high-fat and high-sugar foods
VOA News
Young people who spend a lot of time on the Internet may exhibit classic addiction behaviors, according to new research.

Researchers at Missouri University of Science and Technology, Duke University Medical Center and the Duke Institute of Brain Sciences, tracked the Internet usage of 69 college students over two months. What they found was a correlation between certain types of Internet usage and addictive behaviors.

“About 5 to 10 percent of all Internet users appear to show web dependency, and brain imaging studies show that compulsive Internet use may induce changes in some brain reward pathways that are similar to that seen in drug addiction,” said Dr. P. Murali Doraiswamy, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University Medical Center.

For the study, the students were asked to complete a 20-question survey called the Internet-Related Problem Scale (IRPS). The IRPS measures the level of problem a person is having due to Internet usage, on a scale of 0 to 200.

This scale was developed to identify characteristics of addiction, such as introversion, withdrawal, craving, tolerance and negative life consequences. The survey also captures escapism, ratings of loss of control and reduced time on daily activities.

The researchers also tracked the campus Internet usage of participating students over two months.

They found that the range of IRPS scores among participating students over the two-month period ranged from 30 to 134 on the 200-point scale. The average score was 75.

Participants’ total Internet usage ranged from 140 megabytes to 51 gigabytes, with an average of 7 gigabytes, and that use was divided into several categories, including gaming, chatting, file downloading, email, browsing and social networking (Facebook and Twitter). The total IRPS scores exhibited the highest correlations with gaming, chatting and browsing, and the lowest with email and social networking.

Classic addiction behaviors were tied to specific Internet activities, according to the researchers. For example, they found that introversion was closely tied to gaming and chatting; craving to gaming, chatting and file downloading; and loss of control to gaming.

Students who scored high on the introversion scale spent 25 percent more time on instant messaging than those who scored low on the scale. Students who reported increased craving on the IRPS downloaded 60 percent more content than those who scored low. Not surprisingly, students who scored high on the IRPS scale spent about 10 percent of their Internet time on gaming, compared to 5 percent for the group that scored low.

“We tend to take drug-related addictions more seriously than if someone were using the Internet as a drug,” says Doraiswamy. “The negative consequences of the Internet may be quite underappreciated.”

According to the researchers, the demand for professional help for a “digital detox” is on the rise, but there is little data to guide diagnosis or care. They believe that results from this study and others may shed light on the potential of the Internet to affect our behavioral and emotional wellness, and the need to establish criteria for normal versus problematic usage in different age groups.

The team cautioned that the current study is exploratory and does not establish a cause and effect relationship between Internet usage and addictive behavior.

They add that most of the students scored a little lower than the mid-point of the scale. Furthermore, students exhibiting problematic Internet usage may also suffer from other mental disorders, a fact that was not examined in this study.

The research, presented Dec. 18 at the IEEE International Conference on Advanced Networks and Telecommunications Systems in Chennai, India.

You May Like

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Researcher: Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor at Symposium on Obesity, Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome says problem involves more than calorie intake, warns of worldwide health impact More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thoughti
X
George Putic
May 26, 2015 9:26 PM
Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.

VOA Blogs