Most of us have to use the internet on a daily basis for something, whether that be personal or professional. Some of us (show of hands?) tend to surf the web and social media to pass the time or decompress at work or at home. But a new study has shown that excessive, uncontrollable urges to surf and connect might be a sign of a larger mental health concern, and it’s something we need to watch.
A recent US News & World Report article highlighted the study, an updated version of the Internet Addiction Tool, a survey that was designed to assess addiction back in 1998. Updated for modern usage patterns and our more modern, sophisticated means of using the web, 254 college students from the same school were chosen for the study. The findings? 33 met the criteria for internet addiction, and 107 had “problematic internet use.” Mental health of the participants were also studied, which included assessment for depression, impulsiveness, stress, and anxiety. Most who met the criteria for internet addiction had “trouble controlling their use of video streaming and social networking sites as well as instant messaging tools, the researchers found. They had more trouble handling their daily routines and higher rates of depression, anxiety, impulsiveness and inattention. They also had problems with planning and time management, the researchers found.”
It’s a fascinating article, and the findings were just presented at a neurological conference in Europe. But the interesting link between the internet and mental health concerns is something we’d not previously thought to explore so deeply, and it could yield that much more insight into how what we do can harm or heal the brain. We welcome more discussions such as these, and we look forward to a day where we can have more conversations about mental health openly and honestly, free of stigma or shame.