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.


Reader Comments (rss)

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  1.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 3rd, 2010 @ 6:59pm

    So, depressed people who answer online surveys use the internet? Who would have thought?!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    davebarnes (profile), Feb 3rd, 2010 @ 7:13pm

    I was going to write a witty retort, but

    I am too depressed to do so.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Feb 3rd, 2010 @ 7:23pm

    Actually

    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.

     

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  4.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Feb 3rd, 2010 @ 7:24pm

    Re: I was going to write a witty retort, but

    LOL ... dork !!! (Said with humor)

     

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  5.  
    identicon
    :), Feb 3rd, 2010 @ 7:46pm

    LoLcats

    LoLcats are a cheap way to fend of depression.

    Just go listen to the "Mean Little Kitty"

     

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  6.  
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    Overcast (profile), Feb 3rd, 2010 @ 7:48pm

    Some depressed people drink a lot.. some watch a lot of TV, some eat a lot, some smoke a lot, some yell a lot... etc.. etc..

     

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  7.  
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    Igor Zevaka (profile), Feb 3rd, 2010 @ 7:57pm

    Techdirt: Survey Claims Some Depressed People Use The Internet A Lot

    Fox: Internet Use Causes Depression.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 3rd, 2010 @ 8:11pm

    Re:

    Don't forget...

    CNN: Twitter user Randomdude1014 told us the Internet maybe sort of might probably definitely lead to or cause or be the result of depression!

    MSNBC: Obama Cures Depression!

    Comedy Central: .

     

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  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Feb 3rd, 2010 @ 8:12pm

    Re: Re:

    Oops, that should be "Comedy Central: [Joke followed or preceded by the actual story]".

     

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  10.  
    identicon
    Gordon, Feb 3rd, 2010 @ 8:13pm

    Re: LoLcats

    Basement Cat RULES !
    My two cents.

    Discuss.

     

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  11.  
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    sinsi (profile), Feb 3rd, 2010 @ 9:07pm

    Online surveys ain't worth the paper they're printed on.

     

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  12.  
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    Owain Robinson, Feb 3rd, 2010 @ 9:23pm

    all cats basement

    ceiling cat had way too much freedom...

    So, it's sad that depressed people use it a lot.

    O.

     

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  13.  
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    bigjobsboard, Feb 3rd, 2010 @ 10:24pm

    Well, this makes sense really. depressed people use the internet to find relaxing things and things that could help then recover or forget their problems. Well, that's what I do when I'm depressed. I go to youtube and watch funny videos. that helps he recover honestly.

     

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  14.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 3rd, 2010 @ 10:44pm

    I just admitted my internet/computer addiction.

     

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  15.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 3rd, 2010 @ 10:51pm

    Post hoc ergo propter hoc

    Before therefore because

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  16.  
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    TFP, Feb 3rd, 2010 @ 11:16pm

    #36521

    The report: 1300 or so people filled in questionnaire at online social sites. Results found 18 people addicted to internet (ie social websites), 'many' (as in no figure given) of these 18 people were depressed.

    Here's my survey: Many unemployed single mums with no internet access suffer from depression. Fact.

     

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  17.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 4th, 2010 @ 1:32am

    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!

     

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  18.  
    identicon
    MichaelG, Feb 4th, 2010 @ 1:36am

    how depressing

    Reading Techdirt about all the idiotic things that go on in the world, makes me depressed.

     

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  19.  
    identicon
    Bradley Stewart, Feb 4th, 2010 @ 5:05am

    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.

     

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  20.  
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    martyburns (profile), Feb 4th, 2010 @ 6:39am

    Re: how depressing

    Me too. Dumb people make me depressed and there are more and more of them everyday.

     

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  21.  
    identicon
    Bradley Stewart, Feb 4th, 2010 @ 7:08am

    Re: Re: how depressing

    Marty you must be getting old and crabby like me. I'm almost ready to go out and sit on the front porch and stick my broom handle in the kids bicycle spokes as they ride by.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  22.  
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    The Anti-Mike (profile), Feb 4th, 2010 @ 7:17am

    I wonder if there are any studies about depressed people writing blogs and trying to be gurus online. That might be interesting.

     

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  23.  
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    the anti anti mike, Feb 4th, 2010 @ 7:21am

    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?

     

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  24.  
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    Marcus Carab (profile), Feb 4th, 2010 @ 7:57am

    Re:

    Do you really want to start that kind of psychological mudslinging here, A-M? Because I think it's pretty clear that you are the one who comes across as the most pathetic.

     

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  25.  
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    Henry Emrich, Feb 4th, 2010 @ 8:07am

    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. :)

     

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  26.  
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    Big_Mike (profile), Feb 4th, 2010 @ 8:08am

    That's Funny

    I just got an E-Mail titled Are you addicted to the Internet? I opened the mail and the first thing it said was, Go to this web site and take a survey. When I clicked on the link I got a pop-up "Yep, You're addicted" and a tally number, it was in the Millions....

     

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  27.  
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    Christi Johnson, Feb 4th, 2010 @ 11:04am

    was a survey really necessary to find this out?

     

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  28.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Feb 4th, 2010 @ 11:12am

    Re: Re:

    And TAM does it for free!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  29.  
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    mknowles, Feb 5th, 2010 @ 7:47am

    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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  30.  
    identicon
    happy, Feb 5th, 2010 @ 8:51pm

    happiness

    Depressed?

    Learn the secret to happiness discovered by a homeless woman on the streets of NYC:

    http://www.happyshirts.org

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  31.  
    identicon
    Robert@business card maker online, May 6th, 2010 @ 3:18pm

    really?

    I don't think so. I am not sure if I believe on this fact because I always use internet for my work. I am 18 hours online and I don't see any depression with my life. ;-)

     

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  32.  
    identicon
    Sky, Jun 28th, 2011 @ 8:45am

    I think people who want to dismiss people seeking help use the excuse of 'internet addiction' to get away from helping people without seeming arrogant but by simply doing so you are arrogant!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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