Internet addiction is not a figment of the imagination, according to a study published in the Journal of Addiction Medicine. Interestingly, the study also found that the link occurs more frequently in women.
The study led by Dr Christian Montag at the University of Bonn in Germany came out with evidence that the genetic variation found to occur in online addicts is the same as that associated with loneliness, depression and several other forms of addiction including nicotine addiction.
This genetic predisposition makes it easy for people to get hooked on the Internet. Moreover, women are more likely than men to be predisposed to this condition which explains why Facebook addicts are, more often, women rather than men.
As many as 800 subjects were quizzed in an interview on their Internet habits. They were asked how often they thought about the Internet and how were the impact it had on them if they had to forego it.
Based on this interview, 132 individuals who appeared most hooked were isolated and compared for their genetic makeup to a ‘healthy group’. The finding supported the evidence that many of the identified individuals had the same genetic variant as a person with nicotine addiction.
According to Dr Montag, “What we already know about the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor in the brain is that a mutation on the related gene promotes addictive behavior. It seems this connection is essential for both nicotine and Internet addiction”
Earlier, according to a Telegraph report, datelined 8 May 2012, citing University of Bergen (Norway) research that studied 423 students for addictive Internet behavior, there were clear signs of addictive behavior, especially ‘Facebook addiction’ among some of them. This study revealed that younger people are at a greater risk of Internet addiction than older people and that women are at a higher risk than men.
The study also revealed that well organized and ambitious people are at a lesser risk to Facebook addiction, while those suffering from anxiety or social insecurity are likely to be heavier users of the Internet.
Several other studies have found women at a higher risk of social media addiction. In a study released by Oxygen Media and Lightspeed Research, it was disclosed that the first thing as many as one-third of women in the 18-34 age group do on waking up in the early morning, even before rushing to the toilet is check Facebook.