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The Times - Overuse of the web causing ‘netbrain’

January 9, 2015

This article was first seen on – Daily Mail

Across the world, research has found that almost 182 million of us are addicted to using the web. And as gadgets becomes more popular, the trend is leading to the emergence of new technology-related disorders. The latest has been dubbed NetBrain – and sufferers show increased levels of narcissism, poor attention span and fear of missing out (FOMO).

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 Psychologist Dr Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic from University College London with VisualDNA analysed the phone and web habits of 1,000 people. They discovered a new technology related disorder dubbed NetBrain, in which sufferers show increased levels of narcissism, poor attention span and fear of missing out (FOMO).

These people are also more likely to gamble online and regularly use social networks and gaming sites and apps. Unsurprisingly, people with smartphones are almost three times more likely to score highly for NetBrain than those without.

 The disorder was identified by researchers at London-based VisualDNA, with support from psychologist Dr Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic from University College London.

A team of psychologists analysed the phone and web habits of 1,000 adults. They discovered that around 11 per cent of UK adults suffer from NetBrain: that equates to 5.7 million people. This is comparable to the number of people in Britain who are dyslexic, and approximately half the number of people in the UK thought to suffer from anxiety and depression. The study also found that those who score high for NetBrain are nearly four times more likely to exhibit anti-social behaviour, such as using a phone when with friends.

And people whose personality is classed as ‘passionate’ and ‘uninhibited’ are nearly three times more likely to become addicted to technology than others. ‘This research provides evidence and insight into a societal development, the effect of technology on the individual, which many people suspect to be already widespread,’ the researchers told MailOnline.

The biggest impact of NetBrain, however, was on work-life tension, or the amount a person’s work interferes with their family lie. When looking at the correlation between NetBrain and work-life tension, NetBrain was the most significant predictor. Those scoring high on NetBrain are almost three times more likely to score high for work-life tension.

In December, a study found that smartphones have become so integral to modern life, they may have altered the shape and function of the human brain, according to new research.

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Around 11 per cent of UK adults suffer from NetBrain – or 5.7 million. These people are also more likely to gamble online and regularly use social networks and gaming. Unsurprisingly, people with smartphones are almost three times more likely to score highly for NetBrain than those without (pictured)

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The graph shows the correlation of individuals how confessed to having work-life tension and NetBrain disorder. People who scored highly for the disorder were more likely to let their work impact on their life, while people who a low score had little work-life tension

 Experts found that people who use touchscreen phones on a daily basis have a larger and more powerful somatosensory cortex – the area at the centre of the brain which controls the thumbs.

They think that the more time someone spends fiddling with their smartphone, the bigger the link between brain and hand. Neuroscientist Dr Arko Ghosh, who led a study into the impact of mobile phone use, said our ‘newfound obsession’ with smartphones demonstrated the ability of the brain to mould to its circumstances.

And earlier this week, a separate study found that that men who regularly post selfies on sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, are more likely to be narcissistic, impulsive and display other characteristics, such as a lack of empathy.

Recent research said web addiction now affects 6 per cent of people -roughly 182 million – around the world.

By studying previous academic papers that referenced the addiction, and comparing this to internet penetration figures for each country, data researchers also found the Middle East is the most addicted region of the world.
The researchers from the University of Hong Kong began by searching online databases for previous academic papers.
From this, Cecelia Cheng and Angel Yee-lam Li chose 80 global studies, covering reports of web addiction across 31 nations in seven regions.

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Researchers recently online databases for previous academic papers that referenced internet addiction. From this, they chose 80 global studies, covering reports of addiction across 31 nations in seven regions. The study revealed that the prevalence of internet addiction across these 31 nations averaged at 6 per cent.

The highest incidents of web addiction were found in the Middle East, at 10.9%. The lowest prevalence was reports in North and West Europe on 2.6 per cent. North America had a prevalence rate of 8%, Asia had 7.1%, this was followed by South and East Europe on 6.1%, Oceania on 4.3% and no reports in South America

As part of these past studies, a total of 544 participants were surveyed about their internet habits. There was almost a 50/50 split between the genders - 49 per cent were male - and the average age was 18.42 years. This chart shows the prevalence rate in the regions, and the number of people studied (k)

As part of these past studies, a total of 544 participants were surveyed about their internet habits. There was almost a 50/50 split between the genders – 49 per cent were male – and the average age was 18.42 years. This chart shows the prevalence rate in the regions, and the number of people studied (k)

This included the US, Australia, Austria, Estonia, France, Germany, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, United Kingdom, Bulgaria, Cyprus, Czech Republic, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Romania, Serbia, Slovenia, Spain, Iran, Isarel, Lebanon, Turkey, China, Hong Kong, India, South Korea, Taiwan, and Columbia.

There was almost a 50/50 split between the genders – 49 per cent were male – and the average age was 18.42 years.
This data was combined with each nation’s gross domestic product, internet penetration and reported number of web users. The study revealed that the prevalence rate of internet addiction across these 31 nations averaged at 6 per cent.

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