Researchers at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden have found that the amount of time spent online is linked to chances of suffering symptoms of stress, being diagnosed with depression and having trouble sleeping.
4,100 Swedish men and women, aged between 20 and 24, were recruited to take part in the research, their browsing habits and mental health was analysed over the course of a year.
The research found that the majority of participants spent significantly more time on surfing the web and looking at computer screens, mobile phones and tablets than they wanted to. The ease and accessibility to social networking sites, emails and text messages means that other activities such as exercising, social interaction and sleep all get reduced time allocations.
It was reported that a number of the participants reported feelings of overwhelming guilt when they did not answer phone calls or returned messages. In addition, it was found that people find it extremely difficult to distinguish between work life and personal, private time do to the accessibility to work emails on mobile phones.
It wasn’t just social network users that were feeling the mental and emotional strain of being online. The study found that individuals who spend hours gaming in the evenings were at a greater risk of suffering from depression.