Photo: Getty Images
Two recent studies have people questioning and evaluating their Internet usage and how it affects their mental health. Neither study used controlled subject groups and scientific instruments. Instead, results and conclusions were based on interviews with subjects. The article published in the journal of Psychopathology in February evaluated 1,319 people between the ages of 16 and 51 in Leeds, England, while the second study released in August interviewed 1,041 high school students in China between ages 13 and 18.
Nevertheless, the conclusions are interesting and worth noting.
Internet Depression Study Specifics
The Leeds study, conducted by Dr. Catriona Morrison of the University of Leeds, set out to evaluate the impact of increased use of the Internet on a certain segment of the population. As mentioned, 1,319 people between the ages of 16 and 51 were evaluated. The study was initiated in the aftermath of a string of suicides by teenagers in the Welsh town of Bridgend in 2008, among others. Since this age group tended to spend the most time of any other group on the Internet, questions were raised about whether or not there was a connection.
In the study of Chinese students, the purpose was to determine how many teenagers displayed a “pathological addiction” to the Internet and how that use related to their mental state. The questions asked of subjects in this study were the same as used to diagnose pathological gamblers. The students were questioned nine months after the initial survey to track their mental health.
The Results of the Studies
In the University of Leeds study, researchers discovered that 1.2 percent of those analyzed were “internet addicted”, in that they “spent proportionately more time browsing sexually gratifying websites, online gaming sites and online communities…They also had a higher incidence of moderate to severe depression than normal users” (www.canada.com). By comparison, this percentage of Internet addicts was larger than that concluded for gambling, which was around .6 percent.