Is quitting the Internet as hard as quitting drugs?

Apparently you can exhibit physical withdrawal symptoms from the Internet when you are offline.

You ask them why they took such a quick break from social media and they tell you how they tried but just had to know what was happening with their favorite celebrity.

According to a recent study, this could be as a result of having Problematic Internet Use (PIU) – a condition that causes people to exhibit physical withdrawal symptoms when they are offline.

Participants of the study were subjected to a two-hour period with no Internet, followed by a period of 15 minutes in which they were free to browse on their phones.

From the study, the participants’ heart rates and blood pressure were measured and it was discovered that those with high PIU showed “greater increased systolic blood pressure and greater increased heart rate after cessation of an Internet session” compared to the participants with low PIU.

Such symptoms, apparently, are similar to symptoms of cannabis, alcohol and opiate withdrawal.

"The pattern of results from the current study, thus, suggests that those with higher PIU scores may be experiencing withdrawal effects similar to those seen for such 'sedative' substances." the study reads.

Another interesting discovery from the study was that the “removal of Internet connection for those with higher PIU scores increased their state of anxiety and negative mood.”

Researchers theorize that frequent use of the Internet is used to “relieve or escape stress and/or reduce anxiety, either produced by separation from the Internet or from pre-existing factors in an individual’s life.”

The study has raised concern on the physical health of Internet users as work, entertainment and school moves online.

"The constant separation, re-connection, and separation, and resultant psychological and physiological stress that this may impart, may impact a range of physiological systems, increasing risks of physical disease, as well as psychological distress," the researchers write.

The study found that majority of the hours Internet users spent on the Internet were primarily dedicated to social media and online shopping with over 90 percent of the participants reporting that they visited those types of sites.

84 percent of participants spent their time online doing research- these were college students.

The findings of the study showed that out of their 144 participants, about 38 percent of participants said they spent under three hours per day online; 38.9 percent reported spending three to six hours per day online; 9 percent reported spending 6 to 9 hours per day online and 13.9 percent spending over 9 hours a day looking at a computer screen.


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