College students addicted to the Internet have a tougher time getting motivated to study than those who aren't problematic users of digital media.
That's according to new research conducted by researchers at Swansea University and the University of Milan, who studied 285 university students who were enrolled in a range of health-related degrees courses.
Internet addiction leads to loneliness
They assessed the groups' use of digital technology, how they studied, anxiety and loneliness and found there's a negative relationship between Internet addiction and the motivation to hit the books. Internet addiction also led to feelings of loneliness which made it even harder to study.
Of the students who participated in the research, 25% reported they spent four hours a day online while 75% said they spent anywhere from one to three hours a day on the Internet. Of the students, 40% were on social media while the remainder used it to search for information.
"Internet addiction has been shown to impair a range of abilities such as impulse control, planning, and sensitivity to rewards. A lack of ability in these areas could well make study harder," said Professor Roberto Truzoli of Milan University in a press release.
Time to put the brakes on tech in the classroom?
As for how loneliness impacts the ability to study, the researchers found feelings of loneliness play a bigger role in the positive feelings about academics. The fewer the social interactions because of Internet addiction the worse the loneliness is and thus the motivation to engage in the educational environment at college.
"Before we continue down a route of increasing digitisation of our academic environments, we have to pause to consider if this is actually going to bring about the results we want. This strategy might offer some opportunities, but it also contains risks that have not yet been fully assessed," said Professor Phil Reed of Swansea University.