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Researchers Prove Internet Addiction Is Real, Stronger In Women

August 31, 2012
Image Credit: dundanim / Shutterstock

Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online

The Internet is, generally speaking, a good thing. After all, this series of tubes provides us with a wealth of readily available information, an easy way to stay in touch with friends and relatives, innumerable opportunities for education and research, and, let´s not forget, pictures of cats.

Like anything else in this world, one can have too much of a good thing, which can lead to addiction. Just like any addiction, an Internet addiction is not only an unpleasant sight to see, it´s also believed to be genetic.

According to new research from the University of Bonn, Internet addiction is very real, and can be explained molecularly.

“It was shown that Internet addiction is not a figment of our imagination,” said lead author, Privatdozent Dr. Christian Montag from the Department for Differential and Biological Psychology at the University of Bonn.

“Researchers and therapists are increasingly closing in on it.”

The Bonn researchers have arrived at this conclusion after interviewing a total of 843 people over the past 4 years. These researchers asked the participants about their Internet habits; How often they logged on, if they craved logging on, etc.

After analyzing this data, the researchers found that 132 men and women in this group of 843 showed signs of “problematic behavior” concerning the way they handled the entirety of the Internet. For these 132 addicts, the Internet consumed their daily thoughts and felt as if their well-being would suffer as a result of not signing on.

The Boon Researchers, along with researchers from the Central Institute of Mental Health in Mannheim compared the genetic makeup of these Internet addicts with the makeup of what they considered to be healthy, control participants. This analysis showed that the 132 addicts were more likely to carry a specific genetic variation, one similar to those who are addicted to nicotine.

“What we already know about the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor in the brain is that a mutation on the related gene promotes addictive behavior,” said Dr. Montag in the statement.

“It seems that this connection is not only essential for nicotine addiction, but also for Internet addiction.”

This study also found that the fairer sex is more likely to be affected by this genetic mutation that manifests itself as an addiction to the Internet.

“Within the group of subjects exhibiting problematic Internet behavior this variant occurs more frequently, in particular, in women,” said Dr. Montag. This finding is different from many other studies which have found that it is, in fact, men who are more prone to becoming addicted to the Internet and it´s series of tubes.

As such, Dr. Montag says this study will have to be validated even further, but suggests sites like Facebook may be the reason his study showed that women were more likely to crave the warm glow of the Internet than men.

“The sex-specific genetic finding may result from a specific subgroup of Internet dependency, such as the use of social networks or such.”

To round out the study, Dr. Montag admits further studies complete with more participants should be conducted to further analyze the link between this genetic mutation and an addiction to the ℠net.

“But the current data already shows that there are clear indications for genetic causes of Internet addiction,” he said.

“If such connections are better understood, this will also result in important indications for better therapies.”


Source: Michael Harper for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online



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