by Tory Wolk, blogger
(Courtesy of depressdepression.com)
Researchers in China have discovered a possible link between time spent on the Internet and vulnerability to depression. A study conducted in Ghangzhou included 1,041 teenagers between the ages of 13 and 18 years, none of whom had depression at the start of the study.
Nine months later, it was discovered that 84 of the teenagers were depressed, and those who used the Internet excessively were one-and-a-half times more likely to become depressed. For the purposes of the study, excessive Internet use is defined as spending at least five to ten hours a day online.
One reason for this correlation is that many of the people who use the Internet a lot are playing competitive games. Players are so engaged with their gaming that they will spend hours a day on the computer, becoming stressed and often losing sleep in the process. Lack of sleep increases a person’s chance of becoming depressed.
Another explanation is that after spending so much time on the Internet, teenagers become “addicted” to it. They may become anxious when they are not able to be on the Internet, making social interactions difficult. They may prefer to be on the Internet than with their friends and family.
Although this was the first study looking into excessive use of the Internet as a possible cause of depression, previous studies have found a link between Internet use and depression, though without knowing which was the cause and which was the effect. Researcher Lawrence Lam, the leader of this study, suggests that schools look out for Internet addiction in teenagers before it becomes serious.