Photo: Associated Press
Chinese experts have scanned the brains of 17 young internet addicts and found that their addiction is changing the way their brains function, the BBC reports.The team’s discoveries suggest that the brains of the addicted appeared to show the same changes to the brain’s “white matter” — the connecting web of the brain — as that found in those addicted to alcohol, cocaine and cannabis.
The study was conducted by Hao Lei of the Chinese Academy of Sciences in Wuhan and has been published online at Plos One. Lei and his team studied the brain scans of 35 men and women aged between 14 and 21, 17 of whom had been thought to be addicts.
There is some good news though. Even if you think you are an addict, chances are you are not. The Independent reports that just 5 to 10 per cent of users are thought to be addicted — and it doesn’t matter if you are using the internet far more than you used to.
“We are doing it because modern life requires us to link up over the net in regard to jobs, professional and social connections — but not in an obsessive way,” says Henrietta Bowden Jones, consultant psychiatrist at Imperial College, London, an expert on internet addiction.
Most addicts tend to be gamers, she said.
“When someone comes to you and says they did not sleep last night because they spent 14 hours playing games, and it was the same the previous night, and they tried to stop but they couldn’t — you know they have a problem. It does tend to be the gaming that catches people out.”