Spending too much time online may damage your immune system, a new study has revealed.
Researchers from the College of Human and Health Sciences at Swansea University found that people who spend longer online or those with greater levels of internet addiction are more likely to get sick from things like the flu or common colds than those who spend less time surfing the web.
The study surveyed 500 people between the ages of 18 and 101, with 40 percent of respondents saying they had mild or worse levels of internet addiction.
The study found that people who spend long periods of time on the internet have 30 percent more cold and flu symptoms than those who did not.
Researchers also claimed that internet addicts may actually suffer from stress whenever they are offline and that the cycle of ‘stress and relief’ may alter cortisol levels – a hormone which is linked to stress and can impact on how the immune system functions.
Previous studies into the effects of prolonged internet use has shown that people who spend excessive amounts of time online experience greater sleep deprivation, engage in less exercise, have poor diets, and often drink alcohol and smoke more.
Professor Phil Reed from Swansea University said: “We found that the impact of the internet on people’s health was independent of a range of other factors like depression, sleep deprivation, and loneliness, which are associated with high levels of internet use and also with poor health.”
The study also found that most of the sample said they used the internet for around 6 hours each day, but a sizeable minority also said that they often spend more than 10 hours per day online, with most time spent on social media sites.
The study also revealed differences in how men and women use the internet, with women spending more time using social networks and shopping, whereas men spent more time gaming and watching pornography.