The Internet Will Turn You Into A Depressed, Sleepless LonerS

In news that should surprise no one, a study has found that teens who spend "excessive" time on the Internet are more likely to be depressed. And part of the culprit may be Facebook games.

According to Reuters, researcher Lawrence Lam and his team studied 1,041 13- to 18-year-olds in the Chinese city of Guanzhou. None of the teens were depressed at the start of the study, but over time, those who used the Internet too much were one and a half times more likely to develop depression. What's "too much"? Reuters says, "Lam described some of the signs of excessive use spending at least five to more than 10 hours a day on the web, agitation when the teens is not in front of the computer and loss of interest in social interaction."

Lam points out that excessive Internet use can isolate from family and friends, and keep them from sleeping, both of which are risk factors for depression. Anyone who's seen someone skip classes and meals and parties and dates to go to "meetings" with their "guild" or whatever will know exactly what he's talking about. And the Internet may be getting even worse for you — according to a Nielsen survey, people now apparently spend less of their online time actually communicating (percentage of time spent emailing and IMing is down), and more of it on social media and gaming. Some of that time, I'm sure, is spent having deep and meaningful conversations over Facebook chat, but Nielsen analyst Dave Martin says a lot of the growth in social media use may really be growth in game-playing, because "a growing portion of online gaming takes place via social media applications." Which is yet more evidence that rather than healthy ways to connect with old friends and send pictures to Grandma, social media apps are actually sophisticated online crack dens designed to make us spend ever-increasing amounts of time on the Internet until our physical bodies atrophy and we are nothing but a collection of scores, lolcats, and credit card numbers. At which point the aliens take over.

Image via Kiselev Andrey Valerevich/Shutterstock.com.

Internet Addicts More Likely To Develop Depression [Reuters, via Independent]
Time Spent On Social Media Soars [Slate]