Teens who use the Internet pathologically appear more likely to develop depression than those who do not, according to a report posted online today that will appear in the October print issue of Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, one of the JAMA/Archives journals.
Since the mid-1990s, pathological (uncontrolled or unreasonable) Internet use has been identified as a problematic behavior with signs and symptoms similar to those of other addictions, according to background information in the article. Such use has been associated with relationship problems, physical ill health, aggressive behaviors and other psychiatric symptoms.
Lawrence T. Lam, Ph.D., of the School of Medicine, Sydney, and the University of Notre Dame, Fremantle, Australia, and Zi-Wen Peng, M.Sc., of the Ministry of Education and SunYat-Sen University, Guangzhou, China, studied pathological Internet use and later mental health problems among 1,041 teens in China (average age 15). Participants were assessed for depression and anxiety using previously validated scales. They also completed a questionnaire to identify pathological Internet use, including questions that reflect typical behaviors of addiction (for instance, "How often do you feel depressed, moody or nervous when you are off-line, which goes away once you are back online?).