Internet Addiction Linked To Depression

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A new large-scale study has found that Internet addicts are more likely to suffer from moderate to severe depression.

The Study

Psychologists at the University of Leeds evaluated 1,319 people ages 16-51, looking both at their Internet usage and level of depression. The researchers classified 1.2% of the people as "Internet addicts," meaning that they have excessive and compulsive Internet habits, tending to replace face-to-face social interaction with virtual options like chat rooms and social networking sites. Internet addicts were more likely to be young, with the average age being 21, and were found to have a higher incidence of moderate to severe depression.

What Does This Mean?

The Internet has become ubiquitous, and for most people it plays an important but largely benign part in everyday life. But a certain subset of people are unable to control their Internet usage, to the point where it affects relationships, employment, and daily living activities. If is unclear whether these Internet addicts are drawn to the Internet because they are depressed or become depressed as a result of their addiction, but either way there is a clear association between depression and excessive Internet usage. For Internet addicts, the results of this study may indicate that a look at overall mental health may be in order.

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