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Mon Feb 1 22:36:08 CST 2010

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<h1><small>Internet surfers caught in a web of depression</small></h1>
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<DEFANGED_div id="ImageCaption">A "dark side" to the internet suggests a strong
link between time spent surfing the web and depression, say
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<DEFANGED_div><strong>&nbsp;</strong>03 February 2010 </DEFANGED_div>
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<DEFANGED_div id="ds-firstpara" class="ds-firstpara">A "dark side" to the
internet suggests a strong link between time spent surfing the web and
depression, say psychologists.<br>
<DEFANGED_div id="va-bodytext" class="va-bodytext">British scientists found that
the longer people spent online, the less likely they were to be happy.<br>
A small group of the worst affected individuals were both depressed and
it was not clear whether using the internet causes mental health
problems, or whether people with mental health problems are drawn to
the internet.<br>
More work is needed to answer this "chicken and egg" question, say the
leader Dr Catriona Morrison, from the Institute of Psychological
Sciences at the University of Leeds, said: "The internet now plays a
huge part in modern life, but its benefits are accompanied by a darker
The scientists employed the internet to carry out their research.<br>
online questionnaire was used to assess levels of internet dependency
and depression in 1,319 individuals ranging in age from 16 to 51.<br>
In general, the longer people spent online the more depressed they
tended to be, the scientists found.<br>
was a high correspondence between the amount of time spent on the
internet and levels of depression," said Dr Morrison. "If you look at
how dependent people feel they are on the internet that is likely to
correspond with how happy or sad they feel."<br>
Her team identified
a small group of 18 hard-core internet users who spent many hours
online each day and were classed as "internet addicted".<br>
average depression score was more than five times higher than that of
non-addicted users, and they were more likely to be moderately or
severely depressed.<br>
The addicts spent proportionately more time
browsing porn sites, gaming sites and online communities. They also
tended to be young, having an average age of 21.<br>
Although they
only made up 1.2% of the total number of participants, this was a
higher fraction than the 0.6% of people in the general population who
are addicted to gambling.<br>
"While many of us use the internet to
pay bills, shop and send emails, there is a small subset of the
population who find it hard to control how much time they spend online,
to the point where it interferes with their daily activities," said Dr
"Our research indicates that excessive internet use is
associated with depression, but what we don't know is which comes first
- are depressed people drawn to the internet or does the internet cause
"Now we need to investigate the nature of that relationship and
consider the issue of causation."<br>
such as the spate of suicides among teenagers in the Welsh town of
Bridgend in 2008 have led to questions about <u>the psychological
of social networking sites</u>. Some experts are worried about their
potential for fuelling depressive thoughts in vulnerable teenagers.<br>
Morrison, whose research appears today in the journal Psychopathology,
added: "This study reinforces the public speculation that <u>over-engaging
in websites that serve to replace normal social function</u> might be
linked to psychological disorders like depression and addiction.<br>
now need to consider the wider societal implications of this
relationship and establish clearly the effects of excessive internet
use on mental health."</DEFANGED_div>
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  <li> <strong>Last Updated: </strong> 02 February 2010 2:17 PM </li>

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