Tuesday, August 14

Internet Habits and Mental Health

Following-up two recent posts (here and here) on internet addiction, recent research by computer scientists, engineers, and psychologists suggests that the mechanics of internet usage (frequency of email, online chat, streaming media, task-switching) may predict the tendency to experience depression.
"It turns out that very specific patterns of internet use are reliably related to depressive tendencies. For example, peer-to-peer file sharing, heavy emailing and chatting online, and a tendency to quickly switch between multiple websites and other online resources all predict a greater propensity to experience symptoms of depression. Although the exact reasons that these behaviors predict depression is unknown, each behavior corresponds with previous research on depression. Quickly switching between websites may reflect anhedonia (a decreased ability to experience emotions), as people desperately seek for emotional stimulation. Similarly, excessive emailing and chatting may signify a relative lack of strong face-to-face relationships, as people strive to maintain contact either with faraway friends or new people met online."
 What Internet Habits Say About Mental Health (Scientific American)