Last year, researchers discovered frequent Candy Crush Saga players are more likely to become addicts. Now, researchers argue that regular internet usage is linked to withdrawal symptoms.
Similar to how a drug addict may face withdrawal symptoms, people who use the Internet a lot may experience significant physiological changes including increased heart rate and blood pressure, according to a new study.
The study’s lead researcher Phil Reed, a Professor at Swansea University in Britain, explained a person’s dependence on their digital device is correlated with feelings of anxiety.
“We have known for some time that people who are over-dependent on digital devices report feelings of anxiety when they are stopped from using them, but now we can see that these psychological effects are accompanied by actual physiological changes.”
Researchers studied 144 participants between the ages of 18 to 33 years old. Scientists analyze their heart rate and blood pressure before and after a brief Internet session. Their anxiety and self-reported Internet addiction were also assessed in the study. The results of the survey showed an increased physiological arousal following the end of the Internet session for those who report a problematically high Internet usage.
Moreover, there was an average of 3 to 4% increase in heart rate and blood pressure. In fact, some cases had double that number immediately following the end of Internet use.
While this increase is not enough to be life-threatening, such changes can be associated with feelings of anxiety and alter the human bodies hormone system.
Researchers suggest that these physiological variations following internet usage are similar to withdrawal symptoms seen in many drugs including alcohol, cannabis, and heroin. Ultimately, scientists argue that a person’s need to be on the Internet may be linked to these physiological changes. It is important to note that there were no such physiological changes for participants in the study reported no Internet usage problems.