Symptoms of internet withdrawal -- increased anxiety, blood pressure and heart rate -- are close to what drug addicts experience, according to a study by researchers at Swansea University and Milan University. Participants in the study reported spending an average of five hours a day online with most of that time spent on social media sites. The findings suggest that long term utilization of ICTs as an emotional coping strategy may have a negative influence on mental health and/or exacerbate mental health predispositions.
Other key takeaways from this study include:
- High engagement with cell phones and internet is linked with anxiety and depression.
- Using devices to alleviate boredom is not associated with anxiety and depression.
- Using devices for emotional coping is associated with anxiety and depression.
- Mobile phones may provide a “security blanket effect” in anxiety-inducing situations.
- Path of short-term stress was almost the same irrespective of coping mechanism used.
Panova, T., & Lleras, A. (2016). Avoidance or boredom: Negative mental health outcomes associated with use of information and communication technologies depend on users’ motivations. Computers in Human Behavior, 58, 249-258. http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.chb.2015.12.062