Internet "addicts" are more likely to be depressed than those who surf the Web a normal amount, according to a study by psychologists at Britain's University of Leeds. The researchers found that 1.4 percent of the 1,319 Britons surveyed were addicted to the Web, and that this group was more likely to be depressed — and spent more time on porn, gambling, and social networking sites. Is the Web bringing us down?
We need more research: The Leeds team can't say if the Internet gets us down, says Chris Matyszczyk at CNET News, or if depressed people surf more often. Or maybe it's a "very vicious cycle," in which sad people turn to the Web, read about "disasters, tragedies, and Amy Winehouse," and get more depressed. Let's temporarily shut down the Web and see if "people miraculously cheer up."
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Addicts are more depressed? Duh: A better study would look at "which sites make you depressed the quickest," says John Crace in The Guardian. Maybe "10 minutes of Facebook or porn" makes you happy, but 11 minutes is too much. It seems obvious that any website will bring you down eventually if you're addicted, because anyone "addicted to anything is more likely to be depressed."
The study might have it backwards: Since 5 percent of the population is clinically depressed, and the study found that only 1.4 percent are Internet "addicts," says John M. Grohol in Psych Central, maybe the real story is that most depressed people are not "over-using the Internet." It's "just as valid" to conclude that "the Internet has an empowering side" that lets depressed people "reach out and find human social contact."
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