Internet addicts 'more likely to get ill'

Excessive internet users are also more likely to be sleep-deprived. Credit: PA

Internet addicts are more likely to get ill, according to new research.

Scientists at Swansea and Milan universities have found that excessive internet usage may damage people's immune functions.

They also found that excessive internet users catch more colds and flu bugs than those who are less addicted to the internet.

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The study evaluated 500 people aged 18 to 101 years old. It found that those who reported problems with over-using the internet also reported having more cold and flu symptoms than those people who did not report excessive use of the internet.

Around 40% of the sample reported mild or worse levels of internet addiction – a figure which did not differ between males and females. People with greater levels of internet addiction had around 30% more cold and flu symptoms than those with less problematic internet usage.

Previous research has shown that people who spend more time on the internet experience:

  • Greater sleep deprivation

  • Worse eating habits

  • Unhealthier diets

  • Less exercise

  • Increased smoking and drinking

Previous research found internet addicts can have withdrawal symptoms similar to substance mis-users. Credit: PA

We found that the impact of the internet on people's health was independent of a range of other factors, like depression, sleep deprivation, and loneliness, which are associated with high levels of internet use and also with poor health.

Professor Phil Reed, Swansea University

The findings follow a recent study, also conducted by the same team, which found that individuals with a problematic use of the internet become more impulsive after exposure to it.

In 2013, the team also found that young people who use the internet for excessively long periods can suffer similar withdrawal symptoms to substance mis-users.

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