An RMIT University lecturer has warned that Australians are revealing signs of ‘obsessive-compulsive behaviour’ in their use of social media.

John Lenarcic believes that spending long periods online, frequently checking email and accessing the internet even when away from computers is symptomatic of a society enamoured with being online. Lenarcic’s research suggests that people are exposed to an average of 100,500 words (or 32GB of data) every day.

“Using the internet to excess can disengage you from the physical aspects of communication and could even affect the way people interact, making them more impatient or abrupt,” Lenarcic explained in an interview with

According to Nielsen’s 2010 Internet and Technology Report, Australians spend almost two working days (17.6 hours) online each week, with some younger users spending up to 22 hours a week on the internet.

One of the most quoted statistic about social media in Australia is that it is one of the top 20 most well-connected internet using nations in the world, and ranks in the top 10 for use of social-networking websites.

Backing Lenarcic’s concerns, Dr Neville Meyers from the Queensland University of Technology insists that the fact people are walking around with laptops and smartphones leads to this access to ‘information overload’.

“In a recent survey on mobility, 15% of participants told us that even on holidays they felt like their mobile phone might ring and it could be a colleague trying to track them down,” said Meyers.