The scientists asked volunteers to stay away from all emails, text messages, Facebook and Twitter updates for 24 hours. They found that the participants began to develop symptoms typically seen in smokers attempting to give up.
Some of those taking part said they felt like they were undergoing "cold turkey" to break a hard drug habit, while others said it felt like going on a diet. The condition is now being described as Information Deprivation Disorder.
Dr Roman Gerodimos, a lecturer in communication who led the UK section of the international study, said: "We were not just seeing psychological symptoms, but also physical symptoms."
The findings will fuel concerns raised by neurologists and psychologists about the impact that excessive use of the internet, computer games and social networking sites are having on the so-called "Net Generation" of teenagers and young adults.
In the experiment, called Unplugged, volunteers at 12 universities around the world - including 125 students Bournemouth University - spent 24 hours without access to computers, mobile phones, iPods, televsion, radio and even newspapers.