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Netizens, beware of virtual shock

india Updated: Jan 06, 2010 01:25 IST
Ramesh Babu
Ramesh Babu
Hindustan Times

Bad news for net addicts. Netizens in the high-user category are prone to poor mental health, says a study presented at the 97th Indian Science Congress here. A person who chats more than six hours a day has been put in the high-user category.

A user’s online time gets spurred by a desire to search for something. This can in turn ignite unwanted curiosity in him. Unexplored sites generate a type of compulsive behaviour and frustration creeps in. Compulsive surfing puts the user in a world different from real life.

The study, conducted by a team of young scientists headed by associate professor of Psychology, Bharathiar University (Coimbatore), Dr S. Michael Raj, says depression is on the rise among Internet users. The study has been done in the age group of 23-35 years.

According to Raj many of the things mentioned in the study were in the realm of public knowledge but the latest bid was a methodological attempt, based on specific data and information to look at the netizens.

The study comes as a warning about over use to the estimated 530 million internet users in the world as of now.

“When a person gets connected his behaviour becomes online. Online behaviour is different from real-life. It’s an unreal universe and a soluble tissue of nothingness. Internet users say and do things in cyber space that they wouldn’t in the face-to-face world,” the study says. Users at times share personal information, express dark emotions, fears and wishes and show unusual acts of affection, kindness and magnanimity.

The study also looks at the use of language in cyber space. This shows a paradigm shift into an offensive language, replete with inconsiderate criticism, anger, hatred and threats. These things often reflect in real life later.

The study says that the quality of life of Internet users is changing at a rapid space. For instance, netizens have netiquettes in their exclusive environment. Advances in the cyber world are bound to have related impact in the psychological sphere of human life, warns the study.