Using the internet has become part and parcel of our daily lives.  Almost everyone, at any age, can be seen engaging in the behavior, either through phones, Ipads, and other electronic medium.  

But the constant access to the internet is changing not only behavior and lifestyle, it is also nearing levels that can be equated to addictive behavior. 

Researchers are now studying how the near constant state of being 'plugged in' affects our behavior and lifestyle.  The results are not so reassuring:  young adults in particular, and the ones who use it most heavily show signs of addictive behavior.  That means that those heavy users are foregoing normal activities or behavior in favor of being constantly plugged in.  

Researchers at Missouri University studied a group of 69 students over 2 months period and plotted the results in a table that shows the behavioral patterns that equate it with the patterns of addiction, such as withdrawal, introversion, tolerance, craving, negative life consequences, rating of loss of control, escapism and reduced time on normal daily activites.

Gaming, chatting and browsing were linked to the highest scores, whereas social networking and email were tied to the lowest scores. 

Gaming in particular was tied to the most significant levels of introversion, craving and loss of control.  Chatting and file downloading were also linked to introversion. 

Nearly 5-10% of internet users show signs of internet addiction, and that addiction even shows up in brain imaging studies. The changes observed in people who were more internet-dependant, showed patterns of brain changes very similar to those observed in people who have addictions.

Internet use, and the scores compiled during the study will also help those researchers who are trying to ascertain how internet use, or abuse in a sense, can alter the person's behavior and impact negatively their emotional well being.  

The study needs further research, since it was done without taking into account the presence of mental illness in those people who scored in the highest rankings, i.e., those who were thought to exhibit 'addictive' behavior.

Source : MNT/ 12.22.13

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