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Heavy Internet Use Linked To Depression 360

Posted by timothy
from the uses-mental-bandwidth dept.
An anonymous reader writes "People who spend a lot of time surfing the internet are more likely to show signs of depression, British scientists said on Wednesday. These 'internet addicts' spent proportionately more time browsing sexually gratifying websites, online gaming sites and online communities, Morrison said. They also had a higher incidence of moderate to severe depression than normal users."
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Heavy Internet Use Linked To Depression

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  • by Taibhsear (1286214) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @11:45AM (#31011398)

    Seconded. Could it be that perhaps people are depressed by not getting the attention they desire and thus go to the internet for it? The study is a failure if it finds both ends of the argument plausible and no concrete evidence for either.

  • by derek_m (125935) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @11:48AM (#31011470)

    Rather meaningless really. Of the 1319 responses to an online questionaire 1.2% (yes, thats a whole 16 people) were deemed to be "addicts". "Many" of those were deemed to be depressed. Whats that a whole 10 people?

    Noone ever answers these things less than 100% honestly, do they?

    Smells more like they asked their questions, stated the conclusions they were hoping to prove but failed utterly at having the data to back them up.

  • by Geoffrey.landis (926948) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @11:51AM (#31011526) Homepage

    But it is not clear whether the internet causes depression or whether depressed people are drawn to it.

    Exactly. And an earlier study showed a correlation between television watching [suite101.com] and depression [naturalnews.com]. Worth repeating: correlation is not always causation.

    In this case, I could easily see the correlation as: depressed people are too depressed to do anything requiring activity, so they tend to sit around and watch television or surf the web.

  • by Emb3rz (1210286) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @11:52AM (#31011538) Homepage

    browsing sexually gratifying websites, online gaming sites and online communities

    All of which would likely increase activity of which neuro-transmitter? Did anyone say dopamine? And what else increases dopamine activity? More witches! Err, no. Certain classes of drugs, illicit or otherwise. And depression is provably related to imbalances in norepinephrine, serotonin and dopamine. I'd love to get a real biologist's take on this research.

  • by RJHelms (1554807) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @12:07PM (#31011756)

    All they are saying is that they noted Correlation, not implying causation.

    Yet the summary is written as such. Such a shock for a /. editor not to read something before it's put on the front page.

    No, it doesn't. The summary says "more likely"; that is, as internet use increases, the probability of depression increases. That is the definition of correlation. Implying causation would be using a word like "cause". (I know, tricky concept) Which the summary doesn't.

  • Re:I'll say... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Nathrael (1251426) <nathraelthe42nd@ ... com minus distro> on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @12:17PM (#31011902)
    And Rule 34 of Rosie O'Donnel.

    What has been seen cannot be unseen! YEARGH EYE CANCER!
  • by bonniot (633930) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @12:30PM (#31012144) Homepage Journal

    No, it doesn't. The summary says "more likely"; that is, as internet use increases, the probability of depression increases. That is the definition of correlation. Implying causation would be using a word like "cause". (I know, tricky concept) Which the summary doesn't.

    The word "cause" would assert causation. When the summary says:

    People who spend a lot of time surfing the internet are more likely to show signs of depression

    it suggests causation, because that does not sound the same as:

    People showing signs of depression are more likely to spend a lot of time surfing the internet

    One might agree that those sentences are formally equivalent (in an idealized version of english), but the way most people speak, those sentences suggest different causations.

  • Re:Such a sad story. (Score:2, Informative)

    by memnock (466995) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @01:00PM (#31012590)

    their results found 1.4% of study subject affected. you could probably find 1.4% of Internet addicted people are clergy. or moms. or happy.

  • by bonniot (633930) on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @02:10PM (#31013502) Homepage Journal

    If you really want to be technical

    OK, let's be technical. Let:

    D be the number of depressed people; A be the number of internet addicted people; DA be the number of depressed and internet addicted people. T be the total number of people.

    Then: "internet addicts are more likely than the general population to be depressed" means "the proportion of DA among A is greater than the proportion of D among T", or "DA/A > D/T", which is mathematically equivalent (since all number are positive) to "DA*T > D*A".

    "depressed people could be less likely than the general population to be internet addicts" means "the proportion of DA among D is greater than the proportion of A among T", or "DA/D < A/T", which is equivalent "DA*T < D*A".

    it is feasible that, although internet addicts are more likely than the general population to be depressed, depressed people could be less likely than the general population to be internet addicts.

    No.

  • Re:Such a sad story. (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday February 03, 2010 @11:36PM (#31018906)

    If you've never poked your head into irc.tssupport.org/#tssupport, say hi sometime =)
    There are at least a few /.'ers there...

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