From mild to severe: Understanding the internet addiction spectrum

Comparing internet addiction's impact on AR Apps: Digital natives vs. older users.


In response to the growing concern of internet addiction, this study introduces an Internet Addiction Spectrum. Its purpose is to categorize and clarify the different levels of internet addiction, assisting individuals in recognizing their position on this spectrum.

Surrey’s study at University of Surrey, which involved 796 people, created a new way to understand how people use the internet. They put internet users into five groups:

  1. Casual Users (14.86%): These people use the internet for specific tasks and only stay online for a short time. They are usually older, around 33 years old, and aren’t very interested in new apps.
  2. Initial Users (22.86%): These folks sometimes spend more time online than planned. They might forget some chores, but don’t think they’re addicted. They are about 26 years old and are interested in new apps.
  3. Experimenters (21.98%): This group feels uneasy when they’re not online. They feel better when they are online. They like trying out new apps and are between 22 and 24 years old.
  4. Addicts-in-Denial (17.96%): These users show addictive behavior online, like making new online friends and ignoring their real-life responsibilities. But they won’t admit they’re addicted. They are confident in using mobile technology.
  5. Addicts (22.36%): This group openly admits they’re addicted to the internet and know it’s affecting their lives negatively. They are confident using new apps and spend much more time online than Casual Users.

The researchers found no connection between gender and how people behave online. They also noticed that the more addicted someone was to the internet, the more confident they were with using mobile technology and trying out new apps.

The study also showed that your feelings while using an app can predict what you’ll do in the future with augmented reality. But for addicted people, what they do on websites or games doesn’t matter much.

Dr. Stangl said, ‘Our study tells us that we should help people at different stages of internet addiction. This will also affect how we make digital services and AR apps to meet the needs of all users in today’s digital world.

Internet addiction is complicated and varies in severity. The Internet Addiction Spectrum we discussed in this study helps us understand people’s different experiences with Internet addiction. By figuring out where you are on this spectrum, you can work on healthier and more balanced internet use.

Journal Reference:

  1. Brigitte Stangl, Margit Kastner, et al., Internet addiction continuum and its moderating effect on augmented reality application experiences: digital natives versus older users. Journal of Travel & Tourism Marketing. DOI: 10.1080/10548408.2023.2199776.
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