Can you be addicted to the internet?

July 23, 2014 by Matt Terry

A McMaster researcher is trying to understand how much time people spend online – and whether their habits pose a danger to their physical or mental health.

Michael Van Ameringen, director of McMaster's Anxiety Research Centre, is collecting data from approximately 2,000 people via an online survey.

The results will be pooled with responses from people in the United States and Europe to give researchers a clearer picture of how much time people spend online.

It will also help them understand whether people who struggle with managing their time on the web are dealing with issues of obsession, addiction or impulsiveness.

"There's so little information on internet use, we really don't know much," says Van Ameringen.

Once researchers understand the extent to which is an issue, they can start to devise ways to help people battle it.

"There are behaviour therapies that work well for , but won't work for those who suffer from other issues," says Van Ameringen. "So we need to understand what we're looking at first before we can make recommendations on treatment."

Van Ameringen predicts that a substantial number of people struggling to manage their time online have impulsivity issues.

"And, somewhat ironically, people with ," he says. "The internet is so engaging that, even for people with engagement problems, it still hooks them."

Despite the stereotype, internet addiction issues aren't limited to young gamers who can't put down their Xbox controllers or people who stare at their iPhones all day.

Van Ameringen says he also treats patients who struggle with chasing deals and spend hours on sites like Kijiji.

"The internet is so convenient and easy to access. It's always there, and so it draws people immensely."

Data collection will continue over the next year, after which researchers can begin their analysis.

Explore further: Are you addicted to the internet?

Related Stories

Are you addicted to the internet?

September 26, 2012
People worried about the amount of time they spend online are invited to take part in a study about internet addiction.

Online games addiction a cause of poor mental health?

June 2, 2014
World of Warcraft, Everquest and Starcraft - enormously absorbing and popular online games enjoyed by millions around the world but a dangerous addiction for some?

Internet and video game addiction needs better treatment

April 29, 2014
(Medical Xpress)—University of Adelaide researchers are shedding light on the unique problems of video and internet gaming addiction, and say there's strong evidence to suggest that new treatments should be developed for ...

Is it possible to have Internet addiction?

November 18, 2013
Is there really such a disorder as "Internet addiction"? In my estimation, the short, honest answer is, "We don't know enough to say for sure." Part of the problem is the ambiguity in—and disagreement over—the terms "addicted" ...

Recognize and treat Internet addiction

June 18, 2013
(Medical Xpress)—Do you stay up late into the night using the Internet? Are you grumpy or anxious when you cannot log on? Do you feel the need to use the Internet more and more to feel satisfied? Do you stay online longer ...

Recommended for you

Perceiving oneself as less physically active than peers is linked to a shorter lifespan

July 20, 2017
Would you say that you are physically more active, less active, or about equally active as other people your age?

Study examines effects of stopping psychiatric medication

July 20, 2017
Despite numerous obstacles and severe withdrawal effects, long-term users of psychiatric drugs can stop taking them if they choose, and mental health care professionals could be more helpful to such individuals, according ...

New study suggests that reduced insurance coverage for mental health treatment increases costs for the seriously ill

July 19, 2017
Higher out-of-pocket costs for mental health care could have the unintended consequence of increasing the use of acute and involuntary mental health care among those suffering from the most debilitating disorders, a Harvard ...

Old antibiotic could form new depression treatment

July 19, 2017
An antibiotic used mostly to treat acne has been found to improve the quality of life for people with major depression, in a world-first clinical trial conducted at Deakin University.

Wonder why those happy memories fade? You're programmed that way

July 19, 2017
We'll always have Paris." Or will we?

A child's spoken vocabulary helps them when it comes to reading new words for the first time

July 19, 2017
Children find it easier to spell a word when they've already heard it spoken, a new study led by researchers from the ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders (CCD) at Macquarie University has found. The findings ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.