Step away from your computer… but wait until you’ve finished reading this article.
A new study published in Psychopathology journal found that the likelihood of depression increases with the time you spend surfing the Web.
(For MainStreet’s coverage of the most depressed states, check here.)
According to Sky News, researchers got 1,319 people, ages 16-51, to answer an online questionnaire to determine the relationship between “internet dependency” and depression. The results showed that the worst Internet addicts were also the most depressed.
“The Internet now plays a huge part in modern life, but its benefits are accompanied by a darker side,” said Catriona Morrison, the lead author of the study, in a statement. The author also told WebMD that “Internet addiction seems to be a bona fide syndrome.”
So what exactly is the definition of an Internet addict? According to WebMD, “Many people use the Internet to pay bills, shop, and communicate via email, but a small subset of the population finds it ‘hard to control how much time they spend online, to the point where it interferes with their daily activities,’ Morrison says.”
Even if you don’t think you’re an addict, there may still be cause for concern. At its core, the study is a rebuke of letting too much of your real life be dominated or mediated by the Internet, whether that means communicating with friends on Facebook or spending time on virtual world Second Life.
Still, as some have noted, studies like this are particularly dubious because it’s difficult to tell whether the people studied were more depressed because they spent more time on the Internet, or whether they spent more time on the Internet because they were depressed.
I don’t know if the Internet is making me personally feel depressed, but I know that these studies are.
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