Spending too much time browsing the internet may leave people feeling depressed, according to the first major study into the effects of web use on mental health.
The study, carried out by researchers at Leeds University, looked at the internet habits and mental health of 1,319 adults and young people.
The study showed a strong correlation between those who regard themselves as dependent on the internet and those who reported high levels of depressive symptoms.
Those identified as having “internet addiction” were more likely to engage with sexually gratifying websites, gaming websites and sites that serve as a replacement for real-life socialising, such as Facebook and Twitter.
Writing in the journal Psychopathology, the study’s lead author Catriona Morrison said “This study reinforces the public speculation that over-engaging in websites that serve to replace normal socialfunction might be linked to psychological disorders like depression and addiction.
“This type of addictive surfing can have a serious impact on mental health.”
“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 depression?”
Are depressed people drawn to the internet or does the internet cause depression?