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Research has revealed that one in ten UK adults – the equivalent of 4 million Britons – are experiencing stress and anxiety as a result of poor Internet connections. Consequently, extreme behaviours such as angry outbursts, pleading with our devices and even breaking down in tears are becoming commonplace.
According to research from the campaign to Fix Britain’s Internet – a movement started by an industry coalition comprising Sky, TalkTalk, Vodafone and the Federation of Communication Services – representing millions of consumers and businesses who rely on Openreach – 56 per cent of the population complained they were unable to perform simple online tasks such as working from home, streaming films, chatting on Skype, or making purchases resulting from a poor Internet connection. A quarter said the frustration caused by slow Internet is comparable to public transport delays and one in seven believe it induces the same level of stress as being on a long-haul flight next to screaming children.
While many of us have been irritated by buffering, experts now warn that prolonged periods of this Internet-induced stress could have a long term impact on our wellbeing.
“The tortoise-like speed of a poor broadband connection doesn’t just a waste our time, it can also be detrimental to our physical and mental health,” warned neuropsychologist Dr David Lewis. “My own lab’s scientific research has proved that when internet connections slow to a crawl in the middle of completing an online task, we experience significant increases in blood pressure and heart rate, impaired reasoning and decision-making, growing anxiety, intense frustration and even incidents of ‘computer rage’.”
At the moment, as many as one in four Britons say they are unhappy with their Internet service, while one in eight (13 per cent) believe that it’s actually getting worse. It’s even reached the extent where nearly two thirds of UK adults say they’re let down by their Internet connection at least once a month.
The campaign suggests that help is at hand for frustrated Internet users as for the first time in ten years, Ofcom, the telecoms regulator, is giving the public the opportunity to have its say on the future of the UK’s Internet. With both the regulator and MPs recognising that Openreach, the UK’s national Internet network, is in need of radical change, the campaign to Fix Britain’s Internet has been launched to give members of the public the chance to email Ofcom directly to have their say.