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J Behav Addict. 2019 Sep 1;8(3):530-536. doi: 10.1556/2006.8.2019.45. Epub 2019 Sep 11.

Reducing compulsive Internet use and anxiety symptoms via two brief interventions: A comparison between mindfulness and gradual muscle relaxation.

Author information

1
Department of People and Organisations, Open University Business School, Milton Keynes, UK.
2
Psychology Department, Nottingham Trent University, Nottingham, UK.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Compulsive Internet use (CIU) refers to those individuals who experience a loss of control regarding their online use. Although suffered by a minority, a much larger proportion of adults report to be experiencing early signs of CIU, which can become more problematic if sustained over time, especially when used as a coping mechanism for stress. Since compulsive behaviors are characterized by executing behaviors on "automatic pilot," mindfulness techniques, which help individuals relate more consciously with their environment, could help develop a more adaptive relationship with technology. However, mindfulness interventions are often lengthy hence not ideal for busy individuals with early signs of CIU.

AIMS:

This study tested the effectiveness of a brief mindfulness intervention (10 min a day for 2 weeks) to reduce CIU and anxiety and depression symptoms, in relation to an equivalent length classic arousal descending technique (i.e., gradual-muscle-relaxation), and a wait-list control group.

METHODS:

A randomized controlled trial (RCT) was used with assessments at pre- and post-phases. Participants showing initial signs of CIU were allocated to a mindfulness-group (n = 343), gradual-relaxation (n = 301), or a wait-list control group (n = 350).

RESULTS:

The mindfulness and gradual-muscle-relaxation participants were equally effective in reducing anxiety and depression. The mindfulness intervention was more effective reducing CIU symptoms.

DISCUSSION:

Given the large sample sizes of this RCT, these results are promising, although follow-up studies are needed. Considering health hazards of the "always-on-culture" and the popularity of bite-sized learning, the effectiveness of easy-to fit-in daily life health practices is a positive development.

KEYWORDS:

always-on-culture; anxiety and depression; compulsive Internet use; gradual muscle relaxation; mindfulness; randomized controlled trial

PMID:
31505967
DOI:
10.1556/2006.8.2019.45

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