Higher impulsivity after exposure to the internet for individuals with high but not low levels of self reported problematic internet behaviours (2015)

COMMENTS: Using the internet for 15 minutes made problematic internet users more impulsive.

Computers in Human Behavior

Volume 49, August 2015, Pages 512–516

Phil Reeda, , ,Lisa A. Osborneb, Michela Romanoc, Roberto Truzolic


  • The impact of internet exposure on the impulsiveness was explored.
  • Participants were exposed to a choice assessment before and after an internet session.
  • 10–20% of the sample had internet-addiction problems.
  • High internet-users displayed greater impulsivity after an internet.


The current study explored the impact of internet exposure on the impulsivity of individuals who reported higher or lower levels of problematic internet behaviours. Levels of problematic internet use in 60 individuals were measured using the Internet Addiction Test. Participants were exposed to a choice assessment, in which they could choose between a small immediately-delivered outcome (impulsive), a medium-sized outcome with a medium delay (optimal), and a larger longer-delayed outcome (self-controlled). They were given 15 min access to the internet, and finally were presented with the choice test again. Of the sample, 28% (17/60) had internet-problems, with no difference being found between male and female rates of problematic internet use. Those reporting higher levels of internet-problems displayed no greater impulsive behaviours, prior to internet exposure, than those reporting fewer problems. After internet exposure, higher-problem users displayed greater impulsivity, reflected by a move from self-controlled to impulsive choices. These findings suggest that individuals reporting internet-related problems become more impulsive after exposure to the internet.


  • Problematic internet use;
  • Impulsivity;
  • Choice