Over the past decade internet addiction has become
regarded as a novel psychopathology that may well
impact on a large number of individuals. The focus
of internet use in internet addicts is varied, but
using the internet for gambling and pornography are
common amongst such individuals.
The negative impact of excessive internet use can be
seen across a wide range of aspects of the persons’
life. However, there has been virtually no research
exploring the immediate psychological impacts of
internet exposure on internet addicts, which can act
as a driver of such problematic behaviour.
It is known that individuals who could be classed as
internet addicted manifest a range of co-morbid
psychological symptoms, such as depression,
attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder, as
well as social isolation and low self-esteem.
Moreover, they can also display a range of
personality characteristics and traits, such as
impulsivity, sensation- and novelty-seeking and
sometimes enhanced levels of aggression.
The study explored the immediate impact of internet
exposure on the mood and psychological states of
internet addicts and low internet-users.
Participants were given a battery of psychological
tests to explore levels of internet addiction, mood,
anxiety, depression, schizotypy, and autism traits.
They were then given exposure to the internet for 15
min, and re-tested for mood and current anxiety.
Internet addiction was associated with long-standing
depression, impulsive nonconformity, and autism
traits. High internet-users also showed a pronounced
decrease in mood following internet use compared to
the low internet-users. The immediate negative
impact of exposure to the internet on the mood of
internet addicts may contribute to increased usage
by those individuals attempting to reduce their low
mood by re-engaging rapidly in internet use.
For more information
Romano M, Osborne LA, Truzoli R, Reed P (2013)
Differential Psychological Impact of Internet
Exposure on Internet Addicts.
PLoS ONE 8(2): e55162. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0055162