The internet is a vast space with billions of websites and services used by over 3.5 billion people and growing. While the internet is the heart of the current technological revolution worldwide, researchers have concerns that internet overuse can lead to neuropsychiatric disorders.
These include irritation, anxiety, obsessive compulsion. According to researchers at Etiologically Elusive Disorders Research Network (EEDRN), internet overuse is similar to drug addiction.
The report published in Current Psychiatry Reviews, an international journal, mentioned that the overuse of internet has severe implications on one’s personal as well as social life, socio-political environment, and mental and physical health of users.
“Internet overuse has risen to epidemic proportions and a majority of people are now spending a lot of time online – seeking sensible information and responding to updates and feedbacks. The neural networks of brain assigned to cognitive functions, get constantly irritated by incoming information and evoke mental reactions. The individual, as a result, becomes vulnerable impulsivity, and loss of working memory among others,” said the research
The researchers pointed out that overuse of internet is on a rise, which can lead to a lot of stress, resulting in users being exposed to neurocognitive disorders.
The research, based on empirical analysis of peer reviewed literature, explains the signs and symptoms, brain regions involved and the mechanism of the neuropsychiatric disorder caused by internet overuse.
The lead researchers also mentioned that since the brain is an ‘information-seeking organ’ and internet has tons of information to consume, it compels the brain to stay online and keep surfing which leads to internet overuse.
“Internet overuse pathology implicates key brain regions involved incognitive regulation such as prefrontal cortex decision making, hippocampus – memory and basal ganglia or striatum – habit formation based on reward. It means internet overuse may have serious effects on learning and social communication in growing up children and teenagers whose brain wiring is still maturing,” said Vikas Pareek, senior PhD scholar and co-author of the report.
The researchers expressed the apprehension that the problem goes beyond geographical boundaries and, if ignored, may mushroom as a ‘Disease of Human Civilization’.
The EEDRN consist of doctors and neuro scientists from medical research institutes like All India Institute of Medical Sciences (New Delhi), National Brain Research Centre, Haryana, and Ambedkar Centre for Biomedical Research, Delhi.