‘Internet Addicts’ Suffer Withdrawal Symptoms Like Drug Users, Study Finds

As a parent, you’ve had a sneaking suspicion that you child’s heavy use of the Internet just can’t be healthy.

A new study, thought to be the first to examine the immediate negative psychological impacts of Internet use,  has confirmed those suspicions.

Researchers from Swansea and Milan Universities in Europe asked 60 volunteers, with an average age of 25, about their Internet use and whether they used the Web obsessively or to the detriment of their social relationships and jobs.  The participants were then asked to surf the Web, visiting as many sites as they wished during a 15-minute window. After 15 minutes, they were analyzed for mood and anxiety. Those with a propensity for Internet addiction were found to have what drug addicts refer to as a “comedown” when they come off a drug.

“When these people come off-line, they suffer increased negative moods–just like people coming off illegal drugs like ecstasy,” Professor Phil Reed of Swansea University said in a news release.

“These initial results, and related studies of brain function, suggest that there are some nasty surprises lurking on the net for people’s well-being.”

The study also claims that “Internet addiction was associated with long-standing depression, impulsive nonconformity and autism traits.”

Meanwhile, “Internet Use Disorder” is now being added by the American Psychiatric Association to the May 2013 edition of their Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Health Disorders (DSM-V). This means “addiction” will be officially applied to more than alcohol and other drug-related disorders.

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