EU research network set up to tackle internet’s dark side

Gambling, pornography, bullying and excessive social media use in group’s crosshairs

A new European research network has been launched to look at problematic internet use including gambling, pornography, bullying and excessive social media use. The European Problematic Use of the Internet (EU-PUI) Research Network has been awarded €520,000 in EU funding that will be funnelled into research on how internet use might affect public health, specifically mental health and wellbeing.

"Problematic use of the internet is a serious issue. Just about everyone uses the internet, but much information on problem use is still lacking," said consultant psychiatrist and chairwoman of the network Prof Naomi Fineberg.

“Research has often been confined to individual countries, or problematic behaviours such as internet gaming. So we don’t know the real scale of the problem, what causes problematic use, or whether different cultures are more prone to problematic use than others.”

The network's inception follows on from a 2015 World Health Organisation report exploring the public health implications of excessive internet use and compulsive use of electronic devices, including smartphone that led to a development of both clinical descriptions of internet and technology addiction, and diagnostic guidelines.