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  Table of Contents 
Year : 2016  |  Volume : 20  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 88-94

Internet use at workplaces and its effects on working style in indian context: An exploration

Department of Clinical Psychology, NIMHANS, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India

Date of Web Publication4-Jan-2017

Correspondence Address:
Manoj K Sharma
Department of Clinical Psychology, SHUT clinic (Service for Healthy use of Technology), Govindaswamy Block, NIMHANS, Bengaluru, Karnataka - 560 029
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/0019-5278.197531

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Background: Internet use has revolutionized the pattern of working style at the workplace. It led to an increased use for nonprofessional activities at the workplace. It has been shown to affect productivity at the workplace. There is a dearth of literature from the Indian context in this area. Aim: This study was conducted to explore the pattern of Internet use at the workplace and its dysfunctions. Setting and Design: The present study was a cross-sectional prospective study. Materials and Methods: The objective of the study was to assess the pattern of technology use at the workplace. Two hundred and fifty employees having experience of Internet use for more than a year of various Government/Private sector organizations in Bengaluru were assessed using background data sheet. Users who were unwilling to participate were excluded from the study. Results: 29.6% of the participants used mobile phone exclusively. 58.8% of the participants used mobile along with other devices such as desktop, laptop, and tablet at home as well as at work. 64% of the participants reported change in their productivity due to nonwork-related Internet use at the workplace. 42% of the participants acknowledgemed postponement of their work due to Internet activities. 3-5% reported preference for Internet to work, meals, personal hygiene, sleep, and interaction with family members. WhatsApp was the most used application followed by Facebook and Gmail. Gaming applications and messenger applications such as hike and hangouts were used less frequently. Overall, delay in going to sleep was 1.6 hours and early morning awakening was 1.5 hours due to Internet use. Conclusions: The present study has implications for evolving psychoeducational modules for the promotion of healthy use of technology.

Keywords: Dysfunctions, Internet use, workplace

How to cite this article:
Shrivastava A, Sharma MK, Marimuthu P. Internet use at workplaces and its effects on working style in indian context: An exploration. Indian J Occup Environ Med 2016;20:88-94

How to cite this URL:
Shrivastava A, Sharma MK, Marimuthu P. Internet use at workplaces and its effects on working style in indian context: An exploration. Indian J Occup Environ Med [serial online] 2016 [cited 2022 Jul 6];20:88-94. Available from:

  Introduction Top

With widespread connectivity and constantly emerging tantalizing online activities, people are spending more and more time online for studying, learning, communicating, creating, and entertaining themselves. There is a fine line between healthy use and problematic use, which is getting blurred these days. Individuals found to be "Internet-dependent" have also frequently been found to be more attracted to interactive Internet applications, such as chatting, games, and shopping, whereas nondependent individuals seem to use the Internet almost exclusively for sending emails and searching for information. [1],[2] Researchers documented that half of those labelled "Internet-dependent" had been online for less than 1 year indicating that new users may be more inclined to develop problematic behaviors associated with their internet use, whereas more than two-thirds of "non-Internet-dependent" who had been using online activities for over a year indicate that excessive Internet could wear off over time among users. [1],[3]

In recent years, the term "addiction" has been expanded beyond substance dependence to include nonsubstance-related behaviors that cause problems and impairment. Proposed "process" or "behavioral" addictions have included such varied themes as shopping, exercise, gaming, and forms of Internet-enabled behavior such as online video gaming, socializing through social media, and various forms of sexual behaviour. [4],[5],[6],[7] Although Internet addiction is currently not included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5 th edition (DSM-5), it is generally regarded as a disorder of concern because the neural abnormalities (e.g., atrophies in dorsolateral prefrontal cortex) and cognitive dysfunctions (e.g., impaired working memory) associated with Internet addiction mimic those related to substance and behavioral addiction. Moreover, internet addiction is often comorbid with mental disorders, such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, excessive daytime sleepiness, problematic alcohol use, injury and depression. [8.9]

Personal Internet use at the workplace ranges from aimless internet surfing to personal goal-driven nonwork-related use of the internet. Employees spent at least 1 hour on nonwork-related activities during a regular work day, especially using the Internet for personal reasons. [10] It has been reported that the use of the Internet helped in shaping and promoting job satisfaction among users, whereas it also helped diminish loneliness and depression and enhance social support and self-esteem. [11],[12] The use of personal mobile internet devices at the workplace has become ubiquitous since 2012. Mobile internet devices permit employees to enjoy the comforts of doing their jobs not only during but after working hours using only a single device. [13] It contributes to employee work satisfaction. Use of personal devices for internet use at workplace is more prevalent where companies do not provide Internet connection. [14] 30-50% of Internet usage at workplace is nonwork-related, causing annual losses of as much as $1 billion. [15]

Researchers have found male employees to have higher score of personal Internet use compared to their female counterparts. [10],[16] Female employees have been found to exhibit higher Internet anxiety than male employees. [17] Female employees tend to be more ethical compared to males. [18],[19] Male employees (12.2%) used Internet at work for nonwork purposes compared to female employees and were more likely to engage in counterproductive workplace behaviors than females. [20],[21]

Younger employees tend to engage more in personal Internet use behaviors. [16],[19],[22] Age has been found to contribute negatively to Internet use. [23] Younger and more educated employees were found to be less stressed when they use the Internet. [24] The most common applications associated with problematic internet use in the workplace are pornography, interactive chatting, and playing games. Engaging in online sexual activities (OSA) at the workplace may result in decreased productivity, issues of sexual harassment, and concerns about employee well-being. [25] However, a significant minority of employees may have difficulties in curbing OSA. [26]

Accessing pornography, online chatting, gaming, investing, or shopping at work were the leading causes for disciplinary action or termination. Many companies were not concerned about the severity of the problem (49.6%) and/or had done very little to enforce no internet zone (59.4% use self or managerial oversight and only 37.5% use filtering software). [27] Higher-status employees, as measured by occupation status, job autonomy, income, education, and gender, engage in significantly more frequent personal Internet use at work compared to lower status employees. [28] Having free Internet access had a positive relation with cyber-slacking, leading to an increase in work satisfaction. [29]

A web-based cross-sectional survey of 11018 employees investigated the relationship between the use of online social network sites for personal purposes during working hours and self-reported work performance, demography, and personality. The study implied that the use of online social network sites for personal purposes during working hours has a negative effect on self-reported work performance. [30]

The prevalence of problematic internet use

Problematic internet use (PIU) was higher in the information technology (IT) group (3.81%) than that in the nonIT group (1.91%) in a study of 630 South African technology workers and 769 other workers, however, both were considerably lower than that in other countries. In both groups, younger and male respondents were more likely to have higher PIU scores. The best predictors of PIU in both the groups were online procrastination, online flow experiences, spending a long period of time online in a single session, and chatting online. [31]

In an online survey, 833 employed users of online casual games reported their use of computer games during working hours, and it was found that playing computer games in the workplace elicited substantial levels of recovery experience, which becomes a predictor for the former. Stronger recovery experience during gameplay was seen in individuals with higher levels of work-related fatigue and showed a higher tendency to play games during working hours than did individuals with lower levels of work strain. Users receiving less social support from colleagues and supervisors played games at work more frequently than individuals with higher levels of social support. Job control was found to be positively related to the use of games at work. [32]

In an exploration of pattern of internet use across people of various professions and its impact of Internet use on their personal, social, and occupational life, the mean duration of Internet use was 73.43 months. Two-thirds (65.38%) of them were using internet on a regular basis for a period of more than 1 year, the mean duration of daily internet use was 39.13 months. The average time spent on the Internet was 2.13 hours every day, more than half (56.73%) of the sample was using Internet for at least 2 hours every day. The most common purpose of Internet use was educational (62.5%). The five most commonly endorsed items were as follows: the need to use Internet everyday (53.8%), Internet use to overcome bad moods (50%), staying online longer than one originally intends to (43.3%), eating while surfing (24%), and physical activity going down since one has started using the internet (22.1%). On ICD-10, substance dependence criteria and Young's IADQ separately, the prevalence of the cases of Internet addiction were 51.9 and 3.8%, respectively. [33] There is a need to explore the pattern of internet use at the workplace for nonwork-related purpose as well as the associated dysfunction in the Indian context. It will have an implication in terms of developing psychoeducational programs for the promotion of healthy use of technology.

  Materials And Methods Top

The aim of the study was to assess the pattern of technology use at workplace. Three hundred and ten employees of various Government/Private sector organizations in Bengaluru were approached for the study. The participants were approached three times before considering it as a dropout from the study. Sixty protocols were incomplete and could not be subjected to analysis. A total of 250 (males/females) participants were included in accordance with the inclusion criteria for the study, which included people using Internet for more than a year and education level of graduation and above. Exclusion criteria was unwillingness to participate. Cross-sectional prospective research design was used. The participants were provided information regarding the availability of help for technology addiction at the SHUT clinic in NIMHANS, Bengaluru, Karnataka. The study was approved by the Institute's Ethics committee.


Background data sheet

Background data sheet was prepared by the investigator to collect information about sociodemographic variables, age of onset of Internet use, duration of use, maximum and minimum hours of use, association with biological functioning, interpersonal interaction, leisure activities, reason for accessing or indulgence for particular internet activities, methods used to control Internet/mobile use and impact on daily life, and use of various devices as memory aids. Additional information will be collected regarding the types of activities for which Internet is used such as online shopping.


Public and private companies (N = 10) were approached for carrying out the study. The sampling frame for this study was the list of companies and offices, which gave permission to conduct the study. Apart from this, working professionals were also approached individually for participation in the study. The work domain of the participants in this manner ranged from those working in private offices, IT industry, government offices, health sector, and education sector. The work experience in each of these domains spanned from few months to many years. Individual and group administration of the survey tool was carried out among professionals who were willing to participate. Brief interaction was carried out with the participants to understand their issues with technology.


The data was analysed using the SPSS Inc. Released in 2007. SPSS for Windows, Version 16.0. Chicago, SPSS Inc for the summary measure such as mean, standard deviation (SD) (hours of internet usage for various applications, and other variables). Chi square test was performed to determine statistical difference between categorical data; analysis of variance (ANOVA) was also used to determine statistical difference between variables.

  Results Top

The average age of the participants was 30.4 years (SD = 8.78), and ranged from 21 to 64 years. 69.2% of the participants were males and 29.2% were females. Approximately 50.8% of the participants were married, 43.6% were married presently or earlier, and 2.4% reported to be in a relationship presently. Most of the participants were living in nuclear families (39.2%), followed by joint families (33.6%), few people were living as singles (18.4%), and 2% were from single parent families. Participants were mostly from the IT industry (44%), some were from Government organizations (32.8%), and a few were from other miscellaneous organizations (23.2%) for example having their own business, working in private offices, etc., 38% of the participants accessed internet immediately after waking up.

During working hours, most time spent onIinternet was for professional purposes with a mean of 4.09 hours (SD = 2.85). Social networking sites, sites for entertainment purposes, and knowledge-related sites were accessed for more than an hour each day. The least time was spent on personal use for banking, bill payment, etc., each day at the workplace [Table 1].
Table 1: Average number of hours devoted per day at work for various applications

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On an average, internet activities had shown to cause a delay of approximately 1.6 hours on average in going to bed. Early morning awakening was seen by 1.5 hours on average in the population surveyed. The average quality of sleep was above average (7.5) on a scale of 0 to 10. The number of times people usually checked their phones and tablets after going to bed was on average 4 times [Table 2].
Table 2: Self-reported quality of sleep due to Internet use

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The most used application was WhatsApp (58.5%), followed by Facebook usage (32.6%). Messenger applications other than WhatsApp and Hike were used rarely (65.7%). Gmail was shown to be frequently used by participants (45.3%).

[Table 4] shows the mean values of rating of perceived pain experience across organizations, which was higher in other organizations. The amount of money spent on Internet use monthly was highest in other organizations and lowest in government organizations.

[Table 5] shows the relationship between the use of technology and various activities and relationship disturbances. The results indicate that mostly people postponed sleep while indulging in technology use. Personal hygiene were rarely postponed (70%).

[Table 6] presents situations where people generally tend to avoid using mobile phones. 74% people always avoided phone during driving, whereas only 38% people avoided it during walking. 14% of people rarely avoided using phone while walking.

Number of hours devoted to professional use at workplace was higher in females compared to males. Statistically significant difference was present between gender and hours spent on Internet for knowledge purpose (F = 4.164, P =0.017).

  Discussion Top

The study revealed that 29.6% participants used mobile phone exclusively. 58.8% of the participants used mobile phones along with other devices such as desktop, laptop, and tablet at home as well as at work. The participants spent on an average 1.55 hours each day at the workplace accessing social networking sites; 1.44 hours on an average on seeking entertainment on Internet (e.g., music, movies, videos etc.); knowledge-related sites were accessed for 1.46 hours on average [Table 1]. The maximum use was for professional purposes. 4.09 hours was the average use among the different professionals. Least time (0.39 hours) was spent on personal use for banking, bill payment, etc., each day at workplace [Table 1]. 64% of the participants reported change in their productivity due to nonwork-related Internet use at workplace [Table 5]. 42% of the participants acknowledged postponement of their work due to internet activities. 3-5% showed preference for Internet to work, meals personal hygiene, sleep, and interaction with family members [Table 5]. WhatsApp was the most used application followed by Facebook and Gmail. Gaming applications and messenger applications such as hike and hangouts were used less frequently [Table 3]. Overall delay in going to sleep is 1.6 hours for the sample and early morning awakening was by 1.5 hours due to Internet use. The average sleep quality was rated as 7 on a scale of 0 to 10. Checking of devices (mobile, tablet etc.) throughout night was 4 times on average. However, average hours spent on professional use of Internet per day was higher for females than males. In terms of time spent on the Internet for knowledge purpose, there was statistically significant difference, with males spending slightly more time than females during work hour [Table 7]. The monthly expenditure of participants on internet was higher in employees of other organizations, followed by IT with the least expenditure by government employees. Statistically significant difference was seen among the three groups in terms of expenditure on Internet. It may be due to less use of Internet-related work in government organizations. In private offices, many times Internet was not provided by the employer, and hence the employees needed their personal connections [Table 4]. In terms of social networking sites use, the present results indicated that females had fewer friends on Facebook compared to males. However, no significant difference was found in relation to the number of hours devoted to Facebook each day and rating of pain due to excessive internet use. Males spend more money on Internet per month compared to females [Table 4]. 3% of the participants reported postponing sexual activities at night due to involvement with Internet. 34% reported the effect on their sexual relationship, whereas 66% reported it did not have any effect [Table 5]. 62% of the respondents reported they always avoided using mobile or tablet during meals. 7% reported rarely avoiding it during meals. 72% reported always avoiding mobile/tablet during meetings. 49% reported always avoiding mobile/tablet use during conversations. 28% and 19% reported "often" and "sometimes," respectively, for not using mobile or tablet. 93% of the participants reported avoiding use of mobile or tablet during driving. 86% participants reported avoiding use during walking. 87% of the participants reported avoiding use of mobile or tablet during conversations with others. In places of worship, 93% of participants avoided using mobile or tablet. 85% additionally reported avoiding use in company of their children [Table 6]. The present study finding are being corroborated with available studies.
Table 3: Pattern of application use at workplace

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Table 4: Comparison of Facebook use and experienced pain rating amount spent across organizations

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Table 5: Relationship of day activities and technology use

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Table 6: Situations associated with exercising control with mobile use

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Table 7: Comparison of use of Internet applications among males and females

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Majority of Malaysian employees in a study (42%) claimed that they used mobile Internet devices while at work for personal use, whereas 29% used it for both personal and official use. They reported to have more than one device. [14] Male gender, young age, university level education, and an unsatisfactory financial situation were associated with having PIU. Presence of Internet addiction was seen to be associated with the time spent on the Internet and prevalence of self-reported sleeping disorders, depression, and other psychological impairments, which increased linearly with the score of internet addiction. [34] In a survey of Internet addiction in students in India, it was found that Internet-dependent users often spend excessive amounts of time online, delaying work and losing sleep due to late-night log-ins. This disrupted sleep pattern leads to fatigue and impairment in functioning. [35] Employees spent at least one hour on non-work-related activities especially internet on any working day for personal reasons. [10] Male employees (12.2%) used the Internet at work for nonwork purposes compared to female employees (6.6%) and were more likely to engage in counterproductive workplace behaviors than females. [21],[36] Males use Internet mainly for purposes related to entertainment and leisure, whereas women use it primarily for interpersonal communication and educational assistance. [37] 28% of the participants reported having postponed some other activities due to engagement on Internet. [38] 25% of those who used Internet for over 5 hours weekly spent less time with others, and 10% were not interested in whatever was happening in the offline world. [39] These changes were influenced by usage style and with whom they interacted. [40] Excessive use of internet was associated with preoccupation with internet activities, unavailability for interaction (49%), unable to spend time with family (46%), preferring to be online (52%), avoiding social functions (4%), unable to pay attention to the need of others due to being preoccupied with internet activities (31%). 50% of the people experienced difficulty in paying attention to conversations with others due to engagement in Internet activities, and others complained about the lack of time because of their engagement with Internet activities (57%). [41] Among 104 participants in the age group 20-49 years, 43.3% reported staying online longer than they originally intended to, 24% reported eating while surfing, and 22.1% reported decrease in physical activity due to Internet. [33] Excessive use of online pornography has been found to have had negative effect on user's emotional, sexual quality of relationships, and performance in the workplace. [42],[43] OSA led to relational problems and Internet abuse. [44],[45],[46],[47]

The limitations of the study lie in the fact that the genders were not matched equally. Number of participants under different organization types were also not equally matched. Some data was missing as participants had not filled out all the details. The study did not analyze pattern of technology use within different designated positions or occupations.

  Conclusions Top

The present study has implication in developing a workplace based psychosocial intervention program to address technology use issues at the workplace, where other adjunct modalities such yoga can be utilized.

Financial support and sponsorship


Conflict of interest

There are no conflict of interest.

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  [Table 1], [Table 2], [Table 3], [Table 4], [Table 5], [Table 6], [Table 7]

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