Is excessive online usage a function of medium or activity? An empirical pilot study (2014)

J Behav Addict. 2014 Mar;3(1):74-7. doi: 10.1556/JBA.2.2013.016. Epub 2013 Dec 6.

Griffiths MD1, Szabo A2.



The purpose of the study was to seek a better insight into whether the online medium or the online activity was more important in relation to excessive online use. It is not clear whether those people who spend excessive amounts of time on the Internet are engaged in general Internet or whether excessive Internet use is linked to specific activities.


Perceived changes in Internet use habits as function of hypothetical accessibility of favorite sites were investigated in young adults. University students (n = 130, mean age = 20.6 years) who had (on average) spent over 20 hours a week on the Internet for at least nine years completed a survey. The most favored online activities and expected quality of life without Internet access were also investigated.


Findings revealed that social networking was by far the most popular online activity, and that lack of access to their preferred online activities would drop by 65% (as measured by perceived Internet usage). Approximately one in six participants (16%) claimed they would not even switch on the computer if access to their favorite online activities were unavailable. In relation to a hypothetical question about the quality of life without Internet access, the responses were normally distributed (rather than skewed).


These results show that time spent with Internet activity is not random and/or generalized, but appears more focused. Attraction or addiction on Internet to one or more specific behavior(s) may be a better way forward in the quest for better understanding excessive human behavior in the online environment.