Report: 40 Percent of Internet Users 'Addicted'

John Lister's picture

More than four in ten people are addicted to Internet use, according to a university study. The researchers put respondents into five categories on what they are calling an "Internet addition spectrum."

Researchers at the University of Surrey in the United Kingdom asked 796 participants a range of questions about the way they use the Internet, including their emotions and motivations. They then looked for similarities between respondents to come up with the categories. (Source:

Growing Unease

The first category, Casual Users, covered 14.86 percent of respondents. They mainly go online to carry out a specific task and then "log off," which presumably is just an expression.

The Initial Users category covered 22.86 percent of respondents. They tend to spend longer online than planned but the only negative consequence of doing so was putting off household chores.

An Experimenters category covered 21.98 percent of respondents. They reported a mood shift with Internet use, feeling uneasy when not connected and better when online.

The Addicts-in-Denial category covered 17.96 percent of respondents. They claimed not to be addicted or feel any unease when offline, but showed what the researchers called addictive behaviors. (This was a mixed bag, ranging from neglecting real-world responsibilities to forming new relationships online).

That left the Addicts group, covering 22.36 percent. This group is said to have acknowledged an Internet addiction and that it had a negative affect.

Many of the patterns between the groups were largely predictable: the more "addicted" the person, the more likely they are to spend longer online and to be confident using new technologies or mobile apps.

No Gender Gap

The researchers also found that average age decreased between groups, with Casual Users being older and Addicts younger. They didn't find any significant distinction between genders. (Source:

One of the big problems with the findings is defining Internet addiction. Measures such as how long somebody spends online may simply be to do with younger people being more comfortable with online ways to carry out ordinary activities.

There's also the question of what counts as "being online". Somebody who watches a movie on Netflix is technically online, but that wouldn't be a sign they were more "addicted" to the Internet than somebody watching a movie on broadcast television.

What's Your Opinion?

Are these meaningful distinctions? Which category would you put yourself into? When does Internet "addiction" become a problem?

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ronangel1's picture

I have been using the internet daily multiple times for years and am still not addicted.

repete_14444's picture

I don't know about the U.K., but more an more stores are pushing shoppers to "clip" coupons and shop online: Amazon just finished "Prime Big Deal Days" and many others copied their tactics. Combine shopaholic and "netaholic" and you get the highest level of credit card debt in history and disposable appliances, etc. that used to last for decades.
I know I got off the subject, but I'd bet internet addiction is even higher in the U.S.
My question is: Are there any any therapists or groups that treat internet addiction?

doulosg's picture

And yet, here I am. What's my category? ;-)

And then again, how many people were addicted to newspapers when they were still around? The "addiction" figures are interesting, but are they important.

* /compelling

eric's picture

I am highly addicted to the internet and tech in general.

Whether it's gaming, research/learning, or just endlessly doom scrolling reddit or twitter, I can't go a day without being online unless I'm camping somewhere without cell signal.

buzzallnight's picture

I was a computer tech for 48 years and am retired now and 73 years old.

You may have noticed that older people have delayed recall
when searching for a word or other memory.

I feel more comfortable when connected to the internet
because I can google things faster than I can remember them,
we need a special category :)