Researchers have revealed in a new study the possible causes and effects of Internet addiction. Over the past years, the Bonn researchers have interviewed a total of 843 people about their Internet habits. An analysis of the questionnaires shows that 132 men and women in this group exhibit problematic behaviour in how they handle the online medium; all their thoughts revolve around the Internet during the day, and they feel their wellbeing is severely impacted if they have to go without it.
For the study, the researchers from the University of Bonn and the Central Institute of Mental Health in Mannheim compared the genetic makeup of the pro-blematic Internet users with that of healthy control individuals. This showed that the 132 subjects are more often carriers of a genetic variation that also plays a major role in nicotine addiction. Dr. Christian Montag, lead author from the Department for Differential and Biological Psychology at the University of Bonn, said, "It was shown that Internet addiction is not a figment of our imagination. Researchers and therapists are increasingly closing in on it. What we already know about the nicotinic acetylcholine receptor in the brain is that a mutation on the related gene promotes addictive behaviour," Dr. Montag said.