Internet use is growing amongst the UK population, researchers are concerned about increasing online addiction.
Internet use might be responsible for a rise in so-called cyberchondria, a condition where people search obsessively for health information online.
But it’s not just worrying about your health that’s the issue. Apparently we’re also suffering from too much porn, excessive online gambling and out-of-control gaming .
These issues all fall under a catch-all term “Problematic Internet Use” or PIU.
A group of 100 researchers from across the world are calling for urgent research on the long-term impact of problematic internet use.
They’re also suggesting that regulation and screen time restrictions are needed. Ultimately the goal is to identify those most at risk before a problem develops.
At the moment PIU isn’t recognised as a condition , although it has been accepted that it needs more research before it can be treated alongside other addictions.
In the UK 90 per cent of people regularly use the internet. Under the age of 34 the number of people who recently used the internet was 99 per cent. Studies have suggested that an addiction to the internet could affect between 1.5 and 8.2 per cent of the population.
Symptoms will vary depending on the type of internet activity a person is addicted to.
Gamers often play for very long periods of time neglecting their health, diet and real-world relationships. While porn addicts will spend hours looking for material online and may become detached from real-world partners.
Meanwhile cyberchondria has a measurable impact on the NHS. A study by Imperial College concluded that it was costing £420 million per year in outpatient appointments. Potentially millions more could be wasted by needless tests.
The World Health Organisation is about to add gaming disorders to the International Classification of Mental Disorders.
Prof Zsolt Demetrovics, Editor-in-Chief of the Journal of Behavioral Addictions, told The Telegraph “Many behaviours existed before or already but with the internet they got a new form”.