Scientists and clinicians from Swansea and Milan have found that some people who use the internet a lot experience significant physiological changes such as increased heart rate and blood pressure when they finish using the internet.
The study involved 144 participants, aged 18 to 33 years, having their heart rate and blood pressure measured before and after a brief internet session. Their anxiety and self-reported internet-addiction were also assessed. The results showed increases in physiological arousal on terminating the internet session for those with problematically-high internet usage. These increases in heart rate and blood pressure were mirrored by increased feelings of anxiety. However, there were no such changes for participants who reported no internet-usage problems.
The study, published in the international peer-reviewed journal, PLOS ONE, is the first controlled-experimental demonstration of physiological changes as a result of internet exposure.