London: Internet addicts, beware! Using the web for long hours can result in withdrawal symptoms similar to the 'comedown' experienced by drug users, according to a new study.
Researchers at the Swansea University's College of Human and Health Sciences, in a first of its kind study into the immediate negative psychological impacts of Internet, have found that spending long hours surfing the Web left people in 'negative moods'.
"The negative impact of excessive Internet use can be seen across a wide range of aspects of the addicts life. Internet addiction was associated with long-standing depression, impulsive non-conformity, and autism traits," the study noted.
Using the Internet had a 'striking' impact on the positive mood of those who were addicted to the web, and their comedown was far more pronounced than those who used it less often, the Daily Mail reported.
"The immediate negative impact of exposure to the Internet on the mood of Internet addicts may contribute to increased usage by those individuals attempting to reduce their low mood by re-engaging rapidly in Internet use," the study claimed.
The research was carried out on 60 volunteers with an average age of 25 at the university. When people come offline, they suffer increased negative mood just like people coming off illegal drugs like ecstasy, the researchers claimed.
Initially, the volunteers were given a series of psychological tests to find out their level of addiction to the Internet, their mood, their anxiety level and whether they were depressed.
"Our results show that around half of the young people we studied spend so much time on the net that it has negative consequences for the rest of their lives," Professor Phil Reed, from the university's psychology department was quoted as saying by the Daily Mail.
The study was published in the journal Plus One.