A MAJOR study of Scots internet users has exploded the myth of the reclusive, bedroom-dwelling online addict.
Researchers found that the more time Scots spend online, the more time they spend out and about – travelling and committing to “out of home activities”.
The analysis shows that typical internet users spend 20 minutes more a day out with friends, shopping and doing physical activity than those still averse to modern technology.
Regular internet use also equates to spending an extra seven minutes a day travelling, say the academics.
Even the stereotypical computer game “nerds” travel slightly more each day – an extra minute – than those who shun video games.
The findings were revealed in a new paper titled “Analysis of the relationship between internet usage and allocation of time for personal travel and out of home activities.”
The researchers used data from 23,418 respondents to a 2005/6 survey on Scottish household habits.
The study authors – Dr Scott Le Vine, Charilaos Latinopoulos and Prof John Polak of Imperial College London – used the data because “it captures the precise point in time when internet access was transitioning from a minority activity to a majority of Scottish adults.”
As part of the survey respondents were asked to keep diaries of their online and offline activities – including what they used the internet for and for how long.
The authors of the research state: “Being an internet user was found to correlate positively with both time allocated for travelling and time spent out of one’s home.
They say their study is in contrast to one recent piece of research attributes a decline in time spent out of the home precisely because of online activity.
Another previous study from 2015 suggested that leisurely internet use was “crowding out” other offline activities – including leisure, work, sleep, education and travelling.
And a 2014 study found that women who spent more time online spent less on grocery shopping, cooking and on housework.
The purpose of the study was to provide information for future national surveys which seek to understand how the spread of the internet has altered our travel and lifestyle habits.
But it will provide relief to parents and loved-ones who fret that online gaming, social media and work emails may have an addictive grasp on their nearest and dearest, preventing them from getting out of the house.
Over the past few years there have even been moves to officially recognise Internet Addiction Disorder (IAD) as a genuine psychological phenomenon.
One of the symptoms of the apparent disorder is often described as “social and functional impairment”.