Written by Katie
04 Feb 2010

Studies Show: The Internet is Depressing?

This leaves me with an unsettling feeling especially because it’s a known fact that when you have a blog, you are going to spend a good amount of your time on the internet. I rarely read newspapers now since all of the news I need to read is online! I guess I can’t say I didn’t see this coming. After all, look at what everyone is doing these days. We are absolutely consumed by Twitter, Facebook, blogs, downloading music, watching free television and movies online. There’s very little that we can do without it.

Researches have recently discovered that spending copious amounts of time on the internet can lead to depression.

(deep breath in) Processing that thought…

“Researchers questioned 1,319 people, ages 16 to 51, and discovered a high correlation between amount of time spent online and depression. In fact, among what the researchers characterized as “internet addicts,” the “average depression score was more than five times higher than that of non-addicted users.”

What is the main reason behind this study? Spending so much time on the internet is a substitute for an actual social life, which we all know is pretty much required to have a normal life. Your computer cannot be your best friend. Another reason is because it is used as an outlet to escape from normal life and the problems in it.

I don’t know what their definition is for an internet addict exactly, but speaking for myself, I would say that I spend more time on the internet than the average person. If not the internet, then definitely the computer. If you need some advice on cutting back, my answer would be to get rid of accounts that you no longer use anymore and that you just don’t care about. I recently deleted my Myspace and Last.Fm. I only kept them for so long (even w/o using them) so that I could one day look back on them and see what sort of things/phases I went through. Turns out, I would never really do that.


Source

Posted on February 4, in -

43 Comments

  1. Well, I don’t know. I think it depends where you are at in life and what other things are going on.

    And, as a mature, disabled adult, I can tell you it’s a lifesaver. I have many days when I can’t go out. E-mails and blogging keep me connected to friends and family. Through my blogs I ‘ve made some new “friends.’

    I don’t have to worry about getting to the library. Anything I want or need to research is pretty much at my fingertips.

    It’s a big budget booster in the sense that I save money by not having cable TV. I get what I need or want on-line. It cheaper to download music than to buy CDs. Movies are free. I can easily look for good deals on products or services and place my orders as appropriate.

    I can get and receive facsimilies, make photocopies, scan photographs and records, all from home. You have no idea what a relief and a help this is.

    Studies show that depression decreases in seniors by 20% if they use computers are connected to the Internet.

    As for younger folks or older folks who can still get around a lot. Good common sense is the issue. It’s about leading a well-rounded life … and that was a challenge for some folks long before the Internet. Really, can’t blame the Internet for all our woes. It’s just a tool. Use it with discretion like any other tool.

    JamieDedes
    Musing by Moonlight
    Brooklyn Memories Most Green
    I

    Posted on 2.4.10 · Reply to comment
  2. Bilbo Baggins wrote:

    Correlation does not imply causation. It’s important to note this every time.

    Since internet addiction is correlated with depression, that could mean that A is causing B, B is causing A, or something else is cause both A and B together. Since depression is highly correlated with loneliness, and loneliness is highly correlated with depression, it comes as no surprise. Personally, the internet is great for me and my happiness!

    Posted on 2.4.10 · Reply to comment
    • Gabitron wrote:

      thank you! i highly agree! I wonder if the study cross-checked to see if maybe internet use was actually indicative of depression and not the other way around. i.e maybe the types of people who are internet addicts are depressed and/or more susceptible to depression and they use the internet to find an outlet for said depression.

      Posted on 2.4.10 · Reply to comment
      • Tiffany wrote:

        i agree too! i know of many people with depression who consequently, spend more time online. Perhaps this is because they don’t have a “real” social life and are thus depressed? kind of a vicious cycle going on there.

        Posted on 2.4.10 · Reply to comment
    • PhotoJoe wrote:

      Took the words right out of my mouth.

      Posted on 2.4.10 · Reply to comment
  3. I only spend about an hour a day online, on a good day. Most of the rest of it is spent either homework or family, mostly family but still a good amount of time on homework. I suggest people should get out and do something. Get with some of your face-book friends and throw around the football, shoot some hoops, or just go out walking. If you keep it up for a while it will turn into a habit. I don’t think that is a habit that will lead to depression.

    Posted on 2.4.10 · Reply to comment
  4. I dont think the internet is despressing

    Posted on 2.4.10 · Reply to comment
  5. mika wrote:

    interesting article

    Posted on 2.4.10 · Reply to comment
  6. apocalypsecakes wrote:

    The Internet IS depressing. Everything is. The world is going to end. Why not enjoy some apocalypse cakes? http://apocalypsecakes.wordpress.com

    Posted on 2.4.10 · Reply to comment
  7. Vely Intelesting… I DO spend A LOT of time on the web, but it is SO fun to read other people’s blogs (like this one) and rub thoughts with people from around the world. ALTHOUGH, I do agree that it is a little depressing sometimes when I look up after shutting my laptop and see all the dishes that have been piling up, or the laundry, or… while I’ve been surfing. hmmmm… By the way, what are the ladies doing in that picture at top? 🙂

    Posted on 2.4.10 · Reply to comment
    • itsyowyow wrote:

      I have no idea what is going on in the picture! Sometimes I like to add pictures to more lengthy posts just to be more eye catching 🙂

      Posted on 2.4.10 · Reply to comment
  8. cherylcraigdarnell@rocketmail.com wrote:

    The Meltdown Watch finds Trend/Pacesetting by extensive use of online as lifestyle v. lifeline, as survival at literacy series*

    Posted on 2.4.10 · Reply to comment
  9. You’ve offered an interesting post.
    The key thing mentioned about the study is “copious amounts of time”.
    If you spend too much time doing ANYTHING, your life goes off-kilter – duh!

    The thing I reacted to that you wrote was:
    “There’s very little that we cannot do without it.” Though you did imply correctly that cyber-relationships aren’t the same thing as REAL relationships with people you can see, smell and touch, that is a huge thing, not a very little thing. You can’t have the bulk of your friends be “friends in space”. I think TWITTER particularly, is more harmful than helpful. I mean, phone calls are alienating enough. In a text message, you have no idea you are even reading something from the person you think it’s coming from. I like blogging, and reading blogs, but I have lunch with my friends.

    (I posted about learning guitar, and why TV News Sucks lately on my arts/philosophy blog.)

    Posted on 2.4.10 · Reply to comment
    • itsyowyow wrote:

      You make a very good point sir. I could go on about this subject for hours I’m sure, but I just wanted to post exactly what I was thinking at the moment. I actually would like to retract the heightened emotion behind the statement of “There’s very little that we cannot do without it.” I think I might have meant there’s very little we can do without it, but even that line doesn’t feel right. I wrote this very late at night and that was the sleep deprivation talking. Your idea about a text message is true, it’s important to realize that technology has started to make things become more impersonal, but also we need to be aware that we cannot always trust what we see on the internet. There are always going to be shady websites and hackers posing as others.

      Posted on 2.4.10 · Reply to comment
  10. slamdunk wrote:

    Interesting post. The study raises an important issue, but certainly does have limitations.

    Posted on 2.4.10 · Reply to comment
  11. Interesting post. I know that I’ve had to wean myself off of Facebook and YouTube a bit, and just sit down and read a book or do whatever and I am glad I did it.

    Posted on 2.4.10 · Reply to comment
  12. Sophie wrote:

    The way Internet has led me to a form of depression is the way you can compare yourself to others with Facebook. It is not natural to have news from every single person you ever talked to in your life. Every new baby, wedding or house purchase announced in the news feed is like a reminder that I am pushing 30, still renting, still working as a cashier, and of course no kid in sight. I am married though, but that’s another thing with the Internet… I thought it would be a wonderful tool for planning my wedding, but there was just too much choice available, and going to bridal forums made me change my mind 10 times a day about what I wanted for my big day. Too much is like not enough.

    Posted on 2.4.10 · Reply to comment
    • itsyowyow wrote:

      I think everyone on the internet has a lot to say. This is one of the reasons why it is so overwhelming and who’s to say that we are actually receiving the most accurate information when there are too many sources.

      Posted on 2.4.10 · Reply to comment
    • More or less what I was thinking too. The opposite of “the internet ~ depression” must be “ignorance ~ bliss.” The less you know about others’ good and bad fortune, the less you have as a basis of comparison. The incidence and frequency of self-pity or self-doubt would be much lower.

      Posted on 2.5.10 · Reply to comment
  13. lm2703 wrote:

    i think that everything in the world can be depressing if not used in balance – excessive use of the internet is no exception!

    very interesting article!

    lovess

    Luna
    xxx

    http://www.urbanoptimist.wordpress.com

    Posted on 2.4.10 · Reply to comment
  14. colleensmalley wrote:

    Could it be that depression leads to excessive internet surfing and not vice versa? I can see how there’s a fine line, but don’t people spend an excess amount of time on the internet when they’re bored (because they don’t have many friends or a very invigorating social life), and probably already on the verge of depression? I think social networking (eg facebook and myspace) are leading sources for depression in those who seek social stimulation from status updates and the cute little red box that shows up in the bottom right corner of your screen informing you how many people have been paying attention to you since you last checked…
    sorry that was a little wordy…

    Posted on 2.4.10 · Reply to comment
    • itsyowyow wrote:

      You make a very good point Colleen! It could very well be the opposite as well

      Posted on 2.4.10 · Reply to comment
  15. jmablogger wrote:

    Statistics always demand carefull interpretting. I would suppose that depression arises when the internet is used as a substitute for live socialization. That is not necessarily the case with blogging, and often not even with Facebook, Twitter, etc. I find blogging a particularly interesting means of creative expression made possible by the internet, which can be very useful to keep in close contact with the life and musings of friends and family who live far. It can only be a problem if it stops you from spending time with local friends.

    Posted on 2.4.10 · Reply to comment
  16. secondsit wrote:

    i totally concur. i get Jamie’s point that internet and technology in itself is depressing but we must also admit that these same technologies that made our lives more comfortable and accessible also made us more exclusive. if you’d notice, being in the net, xbox, computer games would alter our interaction with our family and friends. even texting inhibits us from having a decent conversation with our peers personally. yes we interact,but not personally.and without personal interaction, we could not develop skills-specifically coping skills. which without them, when problems come, we find ourselves inadequate to handle them. internet and technologies not only make us depressed but anti social too

    Posted on 2.4.10 · Reply to comment
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  18. Adriane Matkovich wrote:

    I’m not sure that spending time on the internet makes you depressed or, for some people, being depressed can lead them to spend more time online. Or maybe it’s just a random coincidence.

    Posted on 2.4.10 · Reply to comment
  19. i find the net depressing at times … because at the end of the day … it does not talk back. it does not feel. it does not ever hug you. and i think deep down we all come on here hoping … that it will. in some small way make us feel better.

    Posted on 2.4.10 · Reply to comment
  20. softballgirl78 wrote:

    I don’t think going on the internet is the only cause of dpression. I think it’s way more than just that. It can possibly be a factor, but not the sole cause. It also depends on what you look at.

    Posted on 2.4.10 · Reply to comment
  21. The answer to this seemingly new issue is the same answer that has existed since the beginning of civilization. Life requires balance. No, not zen balance in which we align our chakras, but actual, tangible balance. Leave your cell phone at home when you go to the gym. Make sure to be outside for at least an hour or two a day. No, these decisions do not have to be conscious. You need not keep a list to make sure you are balanced. You will know you are balanced when you are happy at the end of a day. ONLY WITH BALANCE CAN WE ACHIEVE A COMPLETE SENSE OF FULFILLMENT IN LIFE. (Just came up with that one and I think it rings quite true.)
    Great blog by the way. Your time on the internet is well spent!

    Posted on 2.4.10 · Reply to comment
  22. Redge wrote:

    Very interesting article. I heard something the other day regarding depression and choices. The more options we have, the less satisfied we are with the choices we make!

    If you choose an option and it fails, you tend to be more critical of yourself because, “Of all the choices available, how could possibly have picked the wrong one?”

    If you make a successful choice but it is less than satisfying then, “Off all the choices available could you have picked something better?”

    I think the internet is great, but of course it depends on what you’re using it for. Perhaps it can be depressing if no one is reading your blog or visiting your site. It can also be depressing if you’ve signed up for the over-hyped get rich schemes to find that no one gets rich except the founder or scammer.

    It can be depressing to read all the news snippets that serve no purpose except to ruin the lives of other people that we otherwise would have left alone.

    It can be depressing to know that certain spammers and hackers are only on the internet to steal your site as happens to so many peoples facebook accounts.

    But other than that … yes, it’s great!

    Posted on 2.4.10 · Reply to comment
  23. pk wrote:

    Studies are depressing…

    Posted on 2.4.10 · Reply to comment
  24. kameaddict wrote:

    Hmm…I don’t know if the internet is really depressing. Maybe, it would be that people are depressed that they turn to the internet. Somehow, I think that having internet is actually a great thing since it provides as a feeling that there are more people in the world that we can relate with/to. But, as what others said, excessive use of it is not a good thing. Focusing more on the “net life” rather than the social life defined by norms, it can be dangerous.

    Posted on 2.4.10 · Reply to comment
  25. brianitus wrote:

    Um, I guess if you substitute looking at pictures of pretty women (and posting comments while breathing heavily) for actually meeting them in real life, you will surely get depressed.

    I think when there’s no bridge between virtual and real, you’re bound to get into trouble. It’s like increasing the amount of insecurities you have while you’re online instead of figuring out how to overcome them. I am not sure if all the stuff we learn online are applicable in the real world. I hope that made sense.

    In my case, I became active online while I was promoting a new bar/ hangout over in my part of the world. Getting people to move from an online existence to something real & felt was a great experience.

    Great post!

    Posted on 2.4.10 · Reply to comment
  26. Yohanes Nugroho wrote:

    I am absolutely agree…

    In fact, here in Indonesia,the country I live in…a social networking websites caused many trouble within a relationship..

    not only those who are dating, but also those who are already married (coz somehow they said they met the 1st or 2nd ex which bring back the old love time)..

    Well, it is not yet scientifically proven or by any research..at least my friends have gone through that..

    Posted on 2.4.10 · Reply to comment
  27. leavemehere wrote:

    But streaming porn is so good.

    Posted on 2.4.10 · Reply to comment
  28. Madelaine wrote:

    I think the most important thing is a time management. This is one thing I’ve learned when using the internet you need to manage your time you can spend a lot time online and still be with your friends. You just need to balance it and prioritize the important things.

    Posted on 2.5.10 · Reply to comment
  29. That’s so sad! As a college student currently studying internet marketing, that facts that you’ve brought up are…well, depressing! With the current shift toward more online marketing, it’s sad to see that our online habits are leading to major issues like depression.

    Posted on 2.5.10 · Reply to comment
  30. andy wrote:

    interesting post? …processing

    Posted on 2.5.10 · Reply to comment
  31. Ah crap. Reading this article makes me feel sad.

    Posted on 2.5.10 · Reply to comment
  32. Good post, thanks. I saw this article and it struck a chord with me as I have recently been diagnosed with depression. I was diagnosed at a time in my life when I hardly used the internet but was in the middle of many real life challenges. I have been disconnected from a real social life due to these problems and the internet has actually been a great source of relaxation, joy and a very therapeutic outlet for me. If I didn’t have the internet I would be completely disconnected from reality, even more so, and would have no idea what is going on in the wider world! As mentioned above there are many causes for depression and it is person specific and also situation specific. Depression existed before the internet became such a large part of our lives, but less people admitted to being depressed and it was diagnosed far less due to social stigma’s and negative perceptions. This is still the case in many other cultures (my wife actually did her doctoral thesis in psychology about this).
    From my perspective my “real” world social life has always been a source of more depression and frustration for me than the virtual world! I get more depressed by real world social interactions with many people I know!
    Maybe internet users are just more honest about their depression than others!

    Posted on 2.5.10 · Reply to comment
  33. I am no scientist- and I would not be surprised if what they say is true. I mean, it is their job, most of them have gone to school, and have made it their career to do studies like this. I admit that I am a blogger- I sign on once a day to leave a post, and read maybe one or two posts from others. I honestly do try to limit my time online, because I know that it is something of this world- I mean it is called the ‘World Wide Web’ – and if you allow it, it will lure you in. It’s happened to me in the past, and if I was not to rise above it daily now, and draw the line, then I know that it would do it again. Is it the leading cause of depression? maybe not, but it certainly does not make it better. Over a period of progression- it could lead to really bad things. It can change your desires, your thoughts, and your attitude. Let’s not let ourselves be in denial.
    : )
    Have a great day!

    Posted on 2.5.10 · Reply to comment
  34. Krista wrote:

    I agree. I always feel better when I don’t spend too much time on the internet, but I think that’s partly because I’ve conditioned myself to think that spending too much time on the internet is bad.

    Posted on 3.24.10 · Reply to comment
  35. Mark M wrote:

    The internet is a great place if you go on a for a little while, do some useful things, enjoy a video or some music and then get out again. I don’t know about everyone else, but if I spend too long on it I come across so many nasty and ignorant people that it starts to get me down.

    I think the internet can destroy people’s innocence as well – while it is great for information I do worry about what damage it will do when it starts to reach everyone around the world. There’s too much judging, competing, brainwashing and so on going on here. People looking at the internet in some countries will get the wrong impression about other people based on a very limited amount of information.

    Anyway, sorry to be depressing! I’m off to live on an desert island with no internet connection. Anyone care to join me? 🙂

    Posted on 7.31.10 · Reply to comment

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