Beware: surfing online makes you lose track of time

Have you ever started browsing Facebook and, one post after another, you find it's dinner time and you didn't even notice?

Well, it may seem trivial as a subject to study, but a group of psychologists from the University of Kent has shown that people who use Facebook or browse the web suffer from time perception issues.

The researchers showed 20 images to forty-four volunteers for varying amounts of time. Five of the images were associated with Facebook, five more generically related to the Internet, and the final ten were neutral "control" images. Participants were then asked if the image they had just seen had been visible for a long or short period of time. The results of the experiment indicate that people underestimate the passage of time when they are looking at Internet-related images, and even more so when it comes to images from Facebook.

Facebook and Web addicts

"We found evidence that Facebook- and Internet-related stimuli can distort time cognition due to mechanisms related to factors such as attention and arousal," as researchers Lazaros Gonidis and Dinkar Sharma explain in research published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology. "This result highlights that Facebook-related stimuli lead to an overestimation of time compared to Internet-related stimuli and both far outperform the stimuli provided by neutral images where time cognition is more realistic." The two scientists hope their findings will lead to a future study of addictive behaviors.