Internet Use Therapeutic… Maybe

from the all-depends-on-how-you-use-it dept

Remember the well-hyped (and well discredited) study done in 1998 that claimed the internet made people depressed? Now a new study has come out that sort of has the opposite conclusion – but which also can be questioned. One of the big complaints about the first study was that it wasn’t done by a random sample, and only spoke to people in Pittsburgh. Well, this latest study appears to have only spoken to people in the Edmonton, Alberta, area. Nothing against those folks, but I’m not sure how representative they are. The study actually did find that internet users were more depressed than non-internet users, but that they were depressed before they got on the internet. The study also found that internet users were more likely to be involved with voluntary organizations and charities. From this, the researcher concludes that internet use is therapeutic for depressed and socially awkward or isolated people who gravitate to it. Seems like a bit of a stretch to reach those conclusions from the already sketchy data. Also, this study was done four years ago, so I’m not sure any of the results (if they did make sense) would even be relevant today. Once again, the internet itself doesn’t make people happy, sad, depressed, lonely or well-connected. It’s all about how people actually use the internet. Some people use it in ways to improve their lives, others in ways that are destructive. It’s just a tool, and, for the most part, any (good or bad) psychological issues are probably a reflection more on the individual than the technology itself.

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