A surprisingly high number of people in Portugal are at risk of developing an “internet addiction”, according to a recent study published in the Computers in Human Behavior scholarly journal.
The study followed 614 people between August 2014 and May 2015 – 12.6% of which were found to be at “high risk” of developing an internet addiction while 40.7% are at “mild risk”.
Halley Pontes, the Nottingham Trent University researcher in charge of the survey, told Lusa news agency that the numbers are “worrying” if interpreted in a broader way.
“Portugal has 10.5 million people – if 12.6% are at high risk, that means around 1.3 million people are very likely to develop an internet addiction,” he said.
Pontes explained that addictions can be caused by an “excessive and problematic” use of online content, such as “adult films, online betting and videogames”.
In a way, some people use the internet as a form of “self-medication” to “feel better about themselves and evade depressive moods”.
Those who use the internet most frequently were also found to suffer the most “negative consequences,” such as “educational, professional and family” problems as well as poorer physical and mental health.
The study also found that boys and men who use the internet “very frequently on a daily basis” and suffer from “depression, anxiety or stress” are more likely to develop addictions than women.