Elias Aboujaoude, a doctor at Stanford University’s school of medicine in the US, says increased screen time is creating alternate 'e-personalities' that are like the worst, drunken versions of ourselves.
And the character change spills over into our real, offline, life.
He says: “The web fuels our delusions of grandeur, making us cruel, narcissistic and even childlike.
“Our e-personalities are an uninhibited version of who we are, a collection of personality traits that make us more child-like, impulsive, darker and narcissistic.
“It comes alive in our emails, tweets, texts and choice of Facebook friends. We binge-shop on Amazon and eBay because it’s so easy, routinely lie about ourselves on Facebook and get into nasty fights in chatrooms.
“We are anonymous, so it’s so easy to think that what we say has no consequences. Online stalking of ex-partners is also becoming common. It feels rewarding, until you realise you’re probably being stalked, too.
“This distorted version of who we are doesn’t just stay online; it seeps into our real lives, too.”
He added that bullying was becoming endemic online because people could act without any thought for the consequences – either for the hurt they cause others or self-preservation.
He says: “We are often anonymous and always invisible, so we state things we would not say to people’s face.
“We lash out with no thought for the hurt we might cause. The speed of the internet means we act before taking time to engage our brains and consider the consequences. It’s too easy to fire off a rash email. When we are online, we bypass the part of the brain that would normally make us count to ten before reacting.”