The Internet has been heralded as both a good and bad place. It’s the ultimate resource in finding the shared knowledge of all of mankind. However, it’s also the place where people may sometimes lose themselves, never even going away from their web-connected devices to experience real life.
There have been instances in the past where computer and web-related things have driven people to neglect other people and also their own lives. We have been shocked by stories of people dying from too much gaming. We have been alarmed at the increasing time people spend on the Internet browsing sites, “connecting” with people on social media while summarily disregarding real-life connections. We have been appalled at stories of parents who overlook caring for their children because of something they were doing on their computer or on the web.
The Internet is also a place where loneliness can be seemingly alleviated. However, the question is whether the Internet can help people who are depressed feel better. That may be a question that’s hard to find a definitive answer for the answer may vary. However, a new research tells us that you can actually tell whether a person has depressive symptoms by the way he or she uses the Internet.
A new study conducted by Sriram Chellappan, assistant professor of computer science at Missouri University of Science and Technology, and Raghavendra Kotikalapudi, a software development engineer, has found that people who have depressive symptoms have trends in using the internet.
What the duo of researchers did in their study published in the latest issue of the IEEE Technology and Society Magazine is recruits 216 undergraduate volunteers at the Missouri University of Science and Technology. They were made to answer the standard Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale questionnaire and from the answers to the questionnaire, those with depressive symptoms were screened.
What the researchers next did was to get general internet usage data of those deemed to have depressive symptoms and analyze if there were trends in their use of the Internet.
Here are the trends the two found. Those who have depressive symptoms tend to:
- use and check their email frequently;
- switch repeatedly among Internet applications like games, email, and chat rooms; and
- watch videos, plat games and engage in chat sessions heavily.
According to the researchers, their study is deemed the first study that used actual internet usage data instead of surveys which may be fooled by participants. They plan to use the result of the study to make a desktop app which alerts people if their internet usage indicates depressive symptoms which could get people seeking help earlier.
Do you exhibit the internet usage behaviors identified by the study? Tell us your opinion in the comments below.
Source: The New York Times