WASHINGTON, Oct. 15 (UPI) -- In a recent survey of 1,300 young adults, ages 18 to 25, some 16 percent of respondents admitted to spending more than 15 hours per day online.
Digital Clarity, the marketing agency that conducted the survey, didn't set out to prove Internet addiction exists, only to better understand how people (and potential customers) use and are affected by the web. Their results suggest being over-connected may have a number of negative consequences.
The survey asked Internet users about a number of potential addiction symptoms: "becoming irritable when interrupted during web use; feeling guilty about how much time is spent online; isolation from family and friends due to excessive online activity; [and] a sense of euphoria when online and panic when offline."
Psychologists disagree whether such symptoms are actually a result of excessive Internet use or a result of other distinct but parallel psychological disorders. Still, some doctors think Internet addiction is real, and some patients do, too.
"I'm online for most of my waking hours and feel sick and depressed if I lose access to the web," Malissa Scott, one British student from Middlesex, told BBC News. "I know it has spiralled out of control in the last 12 months and it has definitely affected my relationship with friends and family members."
Internet addiction can refer to a range of tech-related behaviors, not simply surfing the web; it can include excessive video game playing and use of either computers or handheld devices.
Though it remains unacknowledged by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, it's likely to garner an increasing amount of attention as 21st century life becomes more and more intwined with technology.
This week saw the first report of a man suffering withdrawal symptoms as a result of his attempt to ween himself off excessive use of Google Glass. The man's struggles with so-called Internet addiction disorder were detailed in the journal Addictive Behaviors.