Researchers Just Created the Internet Addiction Spectrum, Here’s What You Need to Know

According to data published by the University of Surrey, people aged 24 years and below use the internet for about six hours a day on average. As for those over the age of 24, this number stood at around 4.6 hours with all things having been considered and taken into account. Another aspect of this study that bears mentioning is that it outlined an Internet Addiction Spectrum, which sorts users out into five basic categories.

In this study, which was led by Dr. Brigitte Strangl, 796 participants were categorized. Here are the five groups that researchers came up with:

1. Casual Users

14.86% of study participants were sorted into this group. Their internet usage is quite precise, with them mainly performing basic tasks online after which they log out. People in this group are about 33.4 years old on average. According to this study, “Casual Users” exhibit none of the symptoms of internet addiction. Additionally, this makes them far less likely to experiment with new apps than might have been the case otherwise, which is an important thing to note for digital marketers and professionals in adjacent fields.

2. Initial Users

This group made up 22.86% of study participants. Unliked “Casual Users”, “Initial Users” tend to extend their internet sessions beyond their initial intent. This can often lead to them neglecting some important tasks in real life, such as basic household chores. With all of that having been said and now out of the way, it is important to note that they don’t consider themselves to be addicts. Members of this group are 26.1 years old on average, and show a moderate willingness to try out new apps

3. Experimenters

21.98% of internet users belong to this group according to the data provided. Notably, this group can experience anxiety if they’re unable to access the internet. When allowed to surf the web, “Experimenters” showed noticeable signs of improvement in their mental state.

This makes them considerably more interested in new apps. Since they’re usually between the ages 22.8 and 24.3 on average, they’re a prime target market for the digital app and marketing industries.

4. Addicts-in-Denial

17.96% of study participants showed obvious addictive tendencies while using the internet. They largely ignore real life relationships and responsibilities, preferring instead to pass their time in the digital world.

In spite of the fact that this is the case, individuals sorted into this category couldn’t acknowledge their addiction. This prompted researchers to label them “Addicts-in-Denial”. Participants in this category showed a substantial level of confidence with mobile technology.

5. Addicts

This group represents the most extreme end of the Internet Addiction Spectrum, comprising a sizable 22.36% of the total sample size. This makes them the second most widespread type of internet user after “Initial Users”.

While this group shares many of the same extremely addictive behaviors towards the internet as “Addicts-in-Denial”, they also candidly admit that their addiction exists. Out of all of the categories created in this study, “Addicts” showed the highest level of confidence in using mobile tech, as well as the greatest desire to test out as many new apps as possible.

The above data was presented in the “Journal of Travel and Tourism Marketing. According to Dr. Strangl, her aim was to analyze the effects of internet addiction and how it impacts user experiences. She also attempted to shed some light on what problematic internet usage looks like. Ultimatley, Dr. Strangl hopes that this study can help create “tailored interventions” that can stop internet addiction in its tracks.

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