Survey Claims Some Depressed People Use The Internet A Lot

from the duh? dept

Every so often a flurry of reports come out trying to talk up the concept of “internet addiction,” even if the term is mostly meaningless (and usually drummed up by a small number of psychologists looking to drum up business “treating” the problem). Almost every real study I’ve seen on the subject doesn’t find much behind the concept of “internet addiction.” What they tend to find is that some people, when depressed, tend to spend a lot of time on the internet, but that doesn’t mean that the internet leads to depression. Often, the evidence suggests the relationship goes in the other direction (depressed people tend to lose themselves online, as it keeps them away from the “real world” that’s depressing them). But that makes a less interesting story, so again we’re seeing reports of a new study that “internet addiction” is “linked” to depression. While the article is clear that the causal link is not established, just the way the article itself is promoted, the casual reader may assume otherwise. Also, this particular “study” has pretty questionable methodology, relying on an online survey — something that isn’t known for producing particularly reliable information. On the whole, I don’t think it’s surprising that a segment of depressed people would spend a lot of time online, but it hardly means they’re “addicted” — and focusing on the “addiction” may be the wrong way to treat the real problem of depression.

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Comments on “Survey Claims Some Depressed People Use The Internet A Lot”

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Hephaestus (profile) says:


The study is so wrong in so many ways. It actually works the other way around. The depression causes people to seek others out anonymously to help stop the felling of loneliness. It is related to the fact that people dont want to be rejected when seriously depressed. They can always walk away online without any real loss.

If you make a connection in real life you have the chance of being hurt. That is the last thing a depressed person wants. It is actually a low risk method of attempting to connect with other individuals.

What these people need is the following …

Ask the question, what do you like to do other than surf the internet?

Where can you find people with similar interests to hang out with?

Remember there are thousands of other people with the same interests it may take some time. If it doesnt work try again and again and dont have any expectations of the people you are meeting.

Anonymous Coward says:

Self selecting population

On one hand, the survey was conducted by a well known university and the results have been published in a journal that is subject to editorial and peer review. On the other hand, the population tested were people who used social networking sites and the sort of people who respond to random surveys through links presented on those sites. What this really tells us is that phishing is alive and well. Set a questionnaire, steal personal information, make money!

Bradley Stewart (profile) says:

There Are So Many Reasons

for depression and addiction I really doubt that more depressed and people with addictive personalities are drawn in by the Internet than most other forms of entertainment. I do believe that many of the people who phone in to talk radio shows are pretty depressed. WLS Radio in Chicago is a great example of this. If you are not depressed already and you want to be depressed just turn on any one of their programs and listen to any one of their no nothing hosts taking phone calls from their callers who no one else will listen to for good reason. If that isn’t enough for you every three minutes you get a full dose of commercials.

the anti anti mike says:

how about trolls like anti mike

I bet you are full of self confidence in what your doing to aid and abet the screwing of millions of people. How are you today anti mike feeling ok? YOU trying ot be a guru again?
Funny that i have a degree in business administration with major in information systems …..was coined by some as one of the top hackers…..offered jobs around the world and what are you? A blogger EWWWW now im soooo depressed. CAN i be you mikey?

Henry Emrich (profile) says:

What kind of idiocy is this?

1. If I’m watching online porn (just to be hypothetical), am I “surfing the Net?”
These people fatally misunderstand what “the Internet” actually is, and what goes on “there”.

2. How often to depressed people use the telephone to call friends/family/anonymous “party-chat” lines?
(Is doing so an “escape from the real world”?
Until — and unless — we reach the point where the Internet is peopled solely by Turing-compliant AI’s, the vast majority of what goes on “online” will involve people from the “real” (meatspace) world. IRL people create the Lolcats and suchlike.

The main problem — and this goes RIGHT back to the pre-Internet veiw of “media” — is that radio and television broadcasting trained people toward a certain, relatively passive approach to communications technology, and culture in general:

“Broadcasters” had “big megaphones”, and everybody else was just “listeners” or “viewers” — but unless you ended up on a game-show or something, you never really “participated” in media. Another side-effect of this paradigm was that certain, particularly-favored folks got to become “celebrities”, because their images were blasting out of the “big megaphone” so much that you couldn’t *help* but know about them.

They couldn’t *help* but “connect with fans”, because old-style media was this vast, all-encompasing voice screaming their name over and over, to the point where you *had* to listen, because it was the loudest.

Nowadays — and this is what *really* scares the old-style, corporate media out of their minds — even if everybody stopped reasserting the Public domain by technological means (what *they* deride as “piracy”), the media megaliths would no longer be the central focus.

It’s pretty telling that this “study” is being hyped by the BBC and other “major media” outlets, because they are the modern equivalent of buggy-whip manufacturers and “professional scribes” trying to deal with a completely different cultural landscape.

But hey, giving this study the benefit of the doubt: it’s pretty obvious TAM is horribly depressed, because not only does he troll Techdirt, but he’s often the FIRST poster, even though the vast majority of what he posts makes absolutely no sense whatsoever. 🙂

Poor Tammy. 🙂

mknowles (profile) says:

depression/internet links

Could be that someone is depressed because they lost job, are about to lose a home, had their interest rates on their credit cards jacked up, etc. Maybe now they’re using the internets to find out what the banks are up to, what’s happening to their health care reform, to find out how to get a loan modification, and maybe they’re getting depressed by what they’re finding out… who knows?

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